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3 1924 091 142 277 



Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 


The coUection df.the following annals was undertaken at 
the request of the publishers of this voluine. While of course 
it was hot expected that the general public would' feel any ■ 
interest in the subject of the work, it was yet believed that to 
the citizens of Steuben County a chronicle of its settlement 
would possess some value* The task was entbred upon, not 
without misgivings/ that the historic ihaterials: to be found in a 
backwoods oormty, destitutis of colomal and revolutionary re- 
miniscence, and possessing an antiquity of at most seventy 
years beyond which th^re was nothing even to be guessed at, 
would prove rather scanty ; and, while it cannot be pretended 
that the vein has ■been found richer than it promised, it is 
neverthel^s hoped that something of interest to citizens of the 
county has been rescued from the fovgetfulness into which 
the annals of the settlement were fast passing. , j 

All the facts .set. forth in the pages ensuing, except those 
for which credit- is given to other s6uroes,'were collected by 
the Editor of the volume, by person^ ihquiry in most cases, 
from the surviving^ pioneers of the county. He has been- 
unable to enrich his, collection by any ancient documentary 
matter— letters, ^iaries or memoranda. The early history of 
the county, rested in the memory of the few pioneers who are 
hving, and in the traditions' handed down by those who are 
departed. The appearance of Mr. 0. Turner's timely His- 
tory of " Phelps and Gorham's Purchase,'' after this work was 
prepared for the press, has enabled the editor tq. correct the 
results of his own inquiries in several important instancesj 


Those whose memorf extends to the period of the settle- 
ment, will find this but an unsatisfactoiy chronicle of the old 
time. Individuals who meii,t notice as early settlers of the 
county have probably ' befen p^^ed over unnoticed; many 
facts of interest and importance have doubtless escaped the 
researches.of the editor, and serious Inacoiiracaes will undoubt- 
edly ,be discovered in the statements recorded. A fair degree i 
of diligence in .seairching for. fajctsj and a sincere desire to prer 
serve honorable among those who shall hereafter inhabit this 
county, the memory of those plain, haardy and ; free-hearted 
men who, first, broke int6 its original vrildemess and by. the 
work of. their own hands began to make it what it now is, are 
all that oain be offered in extenuation of the meagreness of 
the: results, of the editor's labors. The collection should have 
been made twenty years ago. Many pioneers of note — men 
of adventure, of .observation and. of rare powers of narration, 
have gone from among the living since that time. Much of' 
valuable and entertaining reminiscence has perished with 

It is well enough, perhaps, to add in explanation of vaga- 
ries of divers descriptions which may be encountered in the 
following pages, and for which the reader may be at a loss to 
account, that this volume was written nearly two years ago, 
and at a period of life when such a lapse of time happily 
brings great changes of taste and feeling. 

The editor takes pleasure in acknowledging his obligations 
to citizens in various parts of the county to whom he had . 
occasion to apply in the course of his inquiries, for the readi- 
ness with which, he has in all cases been assisted in the pro- 
secution -of his researches. 



Stbcbeu County occupies the summit and eastern slope of 
that ridge which divides the waters, west of Seneca Lake 
that flow to the Susquehanna, from those that enter the 
Genesee. The course of this ridge is northeast and south- 
west ; its breadth from base to base is from forty to fifty 
miles ; the elevation of the eastern base is about nine hun- 
dred feet, and that of the western base (the valley of the 
Genesee,) nearly eighteen hundred feet above tide water ; 
while the highest intervening uplands attain an elevation of 
twenty-five hundred feet above the same level. The summit 
of the ridge follows the curve of the Genesee at the distance 
of abont ten miles from that river. The streams flowing down 
the brief western slope are, therefore, but inconsiderable creeks, 
while the. waters collected from the other side supply the 
channels of three rivers, the Tioga, the Canisteo and the Con- 
hocton, which uiiiting form the Chemung, and add essential- 
ly to the power of the noble Susquehanna. The region com- 
posing this dividing range is an intricate hill country, consist- 
ing of rolling and irregular uplands, intersected by deep river 
valleys, by the beds of several lakes, and by the crooked ra- 

* Gathered chiefly from the State Greological Reports. 


vines -worn by innumerable creeks. Few rocks are presented 
at the surface of tbe ground, and the whole land was origin- 
ally covered with a dense forest — as well the almost perpen- 
dicular hill sides, as the valleys and uplands. The river val- 
leys are bounded by abrupt walls from two hundred to eight 
hundred feet high, which sometimes confine the streams with- 
in gorges of a few rods in width, sometimes grant a mile, and 
sometimes at the meeting of transverse valleys enclose a plain 
of several miles in circuit. 

The dividing ridge curves from the western along the north- 
em boundary of the county. The waters of the principal 
northern towns run to the Conhocton, while those of the coun- 
ties adjoining, flowing in an opposite direction, feed the cen- 
tral lakes of New York and find ultimately Lake Ontario, the 
St. Lawrence and the foggy bays of ISTewfoundland. But 
that the. abrupt gulf of Crooked Lake pierces deep into the 
hills from the north, and carries off the meagi-e brooks of two 
towns seated upon its western bluffs, our county would con- 
tain within itself a complete system of waters. The streams 
would pour down on all sides from a circle of hills and escape 
only by the narrow gate of the Chemung, at a depth of six- 
teen hundred feet below the springs upon the bounding sum- 
mits. A wall would enclose a complete province, and the 
scientific citizen hovering in a balloon above the single gate- 
way in the south would behold, fifty miles to the northward, 
blue ranges sweeping in a splendid curve to the Seneca, then 
bending southward to complete the perfect ring of highlands. 
The Crooked Lake is an intruder and sadly mare this scheme 
of uniformity. Breaking through the banier which separates 
the northwestern tributaries of the Susquehanna from those 
nomadic waters that wander to Canada and the ocean of ice- 
bergs, it lies in a dark and deep bed sixteen miles within the 

county, while the southern extension of its valley pierces 
through to the Conhocton.and forms, by its junction with the 
channel of that river, the broad and pleasant valley of Bath, 
But few streams, however, have been carried captive by this 
great robber to the shivering seas of Labrador. Two or three 
unfortunate brooks are compelled to send thither their unwil- 
ling waters ; and, aside from these resources^ it subsists upon 
secret springs and the rains that fall upon the bluffs and pour 
into the lake by a thousand short ravin-es or gutters. 

The hills of Steuben county are irregular blocks cut out of 
a plateau of clay, rock and gravel, by the action of the ele- 
ments. Of the forces and elements by the action of which 
this original plateau was created, and of the later forces which 
afterwards hewed it into its present form — forms like those of 
a block of ice shattered by the blow of a hammer — we have 
a singular account from men of science. 

That the regions w« now occupy, and indeed this whole 
western region, even to the Cordilleras (or rather the founda- 
tions upon which they are built,) were, in time past, at the 
bottom of a vast ocean ; that certain continents which in the 
earliest ages sat in the East, were broken up violently by con- 
vulsions of nature, or were gradually dissolved by forces mild- 
er than the anns of those rude slaves dwelling under the 
earth which are pf old reported by Geologists to have over- 
turned mountains, and cloven in twain fast anchored islands, 
and that the currents of the ocean flowing like steady rivers 
towards the setting sun, were laden with the dust of conti- 
nents thus destroyed, and strewed it over the submerged 
plains of the West ; that after these rivers of the ocean had 
labored silently and without ceasing for many ages, the whole 
bed of the Western deep was covered to the depth of many 
thousand feet with the materials of which the ancient East- 

ern world was built, till at length peaks, then islands, then 
a new continent, appeared upon the face of the globe, while 
the waters by many channels ran down into the vast hollow 
of the uprooted continent to form a new ocean : — all these 
things State Geologists seem to beheve established — or at 
least they feel at liberty to surmise substantially to this 

Further than this, we are invited to see the builders at their 
secret labors. Sluggish rivers of mud roll through the deep 
like enormous serpents, and waste themselves before they 
reach the valley of the Mississippi. Brighter torrents of sand 
following spread a gay carpet over the brackish trail of the 
mud-snake : then streams of pebble and shattered rock and 
of all the powders of an abraded world deposit, now Niagara 
Groups, now Chemung Groups, or when stirred by tempests 
and water-spouts settle into coarse conglomerate. We are 
shown, also, periods of a wonderful life. Millions of those 
brilliant " shells and crinoideans and crustaceans," whose fan- 
tastic images are stamped upon the rocks, dwelt in numberless 
nations among the waters, while those hideous monsters 
whose names were only less formidable than themselves, 
prowled through the depths below, or floundered in elephan- 
tine antics among the billows above. Once a part of the floor 
of the ocean, which seems to have been the roof of a cavern 
occupied by certain " secret black and midnight" powers, sinks 
downward, arouses the horrible Pluto of Mud from his slum- 
bers in bottomless volcanoes, who, rising in towering anger 
through the rafters of his broken house, overwhelms coral 
forests, the empires of the gorgeous fossil tribes, and all the 
beautiful mansions of the deep with a tremendous flood of 
mire. Other atrocious giants come forth from the volcanic 
furnaces into which the waters have fallen, and heat the ocean 

with spouts of steam, while certain angry chemists, drenched 
in their subterranean laboratories by the sudden inundation 
of brine, let loose their most poisonous gasses, and catching 
the unfortunate nymphs, dose them with deadly physic. AH 
creatures perish. Even the gigantic and roaring monsters, 
choked with mud and suffocated by the poisons that rise 
from the r«servoirs of death below, flounder in dying agonies. 
Their carcases are diifted to and fro for a time, and thousands 
of years afterwards, men digging in mines lay bare their huge 
white jaws and their mighty shanks, and fasten up their skele- 
tons with wire in National Museums. All these, and many 
other strange things, showing how at last the region we in- 
habit was built, we see, from the happily settled times of the 
present, into the troubled times far away — times truly of " agi- 
tation and fanaticism." 

Let us now leave greater speculations, and look homeward. 
That tract of land now occupied by the five western counties 
of New York in the southern tier, appeared above the., 
waters in the form of a regular plateau with a mean elevation;' 
of two thousand feet above the level of the present ocean, i 
overlooking the sea which covered the northern counties, the 
, Canadas, and the Great Western Valley. The detritus from 
which this plateau was constructed, had ripened into a series 
of shales, flagstones and sandstones, which fi-om the difier- 
ence of the organic remains of the upper and lower ledges, 
have been divided by geologists into two groups, — the upper 
or Chemung group, and the lower or Portage group. The 
maps represent these as first appearing near Chenango 
County in this State, thence running westwards through the 
southern counties, with a breadth of some fifty miles, and a 
thickness of about 2500 feet, thence continuing along the 
shore of Lake Erie, and toward the western extremity of that 

lake, making a bold curve southward. Their course, however, 
appeai-s not to have been carefully followed in their wander- 
ings toward the far west; for we hear of them as being 
"probably" in Indiana, in reduced circumstances, with a 
thickness of less than 400 feet. 

But this matters not at present. We are shown then at 
the period of our deliverance from the deep, a fine plateau, 
extending from Lake Erie far toward the east, and from the 
foot of the Pennsylvanian mountains northward about sixty 
miles, to a great bay of the ocean. How did this become a 
labyrinth of hills ? The waters that fell from the clouds, or 
that issued from the grounds wandered this way and that, 
under the guidance of their restless instincts seeking the 
ocean. Many combining, formed rivers, and furrowed for 
themselves deep and curving valleys ; the creeks conquered 
crooked but triumphant passages through ledges of sand 
stone, and beds of shale, wearing their channels by indus- 
trious labor through many centuries ; while the brooks, the 
runnels, the spring torrents, and all those lesser hydraulic 
tribes, slashed the fair table land in all directions with gorges 
and ravines. 

Work like this would have hewn the plateau into abruptv 
blocks. It would have left a multitude of isolated and inac- 
cessible tables, islands divided by perpendicular gulfe. Neither 
man nor beast could have ascended to the uplands. The 
river valleys would have been broad halls enclosed by walls 
of rock : and the lumbei-man roving up the beds of the tri- 
butary streams, would find himself involved in hopeless 
defiles, with precipices jutting forth on either side, while 
hundreds of feet above his head the pine and the fir swayed 
their princely plumes in derision, like savage kings jeering 
the Spaniard from inaccessible cliffs. 

But observe how the judicious eleirients, -mth rude and 
ungeometrical but kindly labor, prepared the new made region 
to be a habitation for man. The frosts with powerful wedges 
cracked the precipitous bluflfe, or with mighty hammers, as it 
•would seem, shivered to atoms rocky pyramids. The rains 
rounded the edges of the cFiflfe, here pushing off great masses 
of earth, there sweeping loosened ledges into the ravines, 
while the invisible powers of the air working many cen- 
turies with those more boisterous slaves, which hollowed 
the water courses and broke up the rocks, wrought at 
length the rolhng ridges, the broad knobs, the blunt 
promontories, and all the curiously designed mountain- 
figures that now cover the land. The work was thus made 
perfect. Forests cover the hills, and republicans coming after 
many days with plows and axes, find a land made ready for 
them. After many days, too, civil-engineers, with their glass- 
es and brazen instruments, appear at the foot of the ridge 
dividing the Susquehanna from the Genesee, and find that 
the rivers and industrious brooks have been laboring at this 
gravel rampart for many thousand years, guided, indeed, by 
very rude trigonometry, hired by no pledge of public stocks 
and undisturbed by loans or rumors of loans, but have yet 
done the labor of myriads of miners, and have pierced the 
ridge with such admirable cuts, that the locomotive, instead 
of dragging its weary wheels up an abrupt ascent of fifteen 
hundred feet, winds swiftly through mountain halls, (at the 
risk, it is true, after the equinoctial rains, of encountering in 
certain places, a sliding hill-top or an avalanche of cobble- 
stones, which is quite alpine but unpleasant,) ever finding a 
gorge cloven through the broad bulwarks that seem to bar 
the valley ; ever finding some crooked but deep defile through 
the bristling promontories that crowd together as if expressly 
for the discouragement of railroad directors. 


It will be remembered that at tlie deliverance of Steuben 
county, with its four western neighbors, from the water, a 
large tract of land in the North, which is now high and dry, 
was lying under the sea. This sea lost life rapidly, and bled 
to death as it were through many wounds. Until its level 
sank below the level of the upper vaUey of the Canistes, the 
channel of that river was one of the passages through which 
it was drained. The torrent that ran roaring through the 
hills when suppHed from such a reservoir was a powerful one; 
but since that has failed, the river has shrunk to very mode- 
rate dimensions, and now subsists upon the scanty charities 
of the mountain springs. Similar rivers probably flowed 
through many of the southwardly inclining valleys and cov- 
ered them with " northern drift." 

In descending to details, the prospect is quite dishearten- 
ing. We are mortified to confess that our county is destitute 
of volcanoes. We have not so much as a Geyser. Of sco- 
riae and moonstones there is an utter deficiency ; and as for 
trap-rock there is not an ounce of it between Tyrone and 
Troupsburgh. The true patriot will, however, hear with 
pride, that fucoides are tolerably abundant, and his ecstacy 
will with difiiculty be suppressed when he learns not only 
that here was once the abode of the Holoptychus and the 
Goniatites Acostaius, but that here we find the rehcs of the 
Astrypa Hystrix and the Ungulina Suhorhicularis, and of 
other eccentric aborigines which nibbled sea-weed on our na- 
tive hills in ages past, when Saturn was but Crown Prince. 
It is consoling also to remember that the tooth of a mam- 
moth was once found under the bed of one of our central 
mill-ponds ; reasoning from which fact, he is a bold man who 
will dare to deny that the broad-horned mastodon once bel- 
lowed through these gorges, and that here the gigantic ante- 

diluvian transfixed the monster with his iron javelin ! It 
must be confessed, however, that the State Geologists are 
silent with regard to antediluvian sportsmen. It will be with 
intense satisfection that the sincere patriot meets upon the 
hills of Troupsburgh and Greenwood the airiest localities in 
the country, being 2,500 feet above the sea, that venerable 
and most worthy patriarch among the rocks of the earth, 
Old Red Sandstone. " Here the rock consists of a thin layer 
of argillaceous sandstone, highly fermginous in character, 
and bearing a general resemblance to the iron ore of the 
Clinton Group. Its decomposition stains the soil a bright 
red color, and fi'om these indications it has been supposed 
that valuable beds of ore would be found. It is extremely 
dotibtful, however, whether this stratum will ever prove of 
any Importance as an iron ore." — {State Oeol. Mep.) 

Rocks of the Portage Group " appear in all the deep ra- 
vines and along the water courses in the northern part of the 
county, while the high grounds are occupied with those of 
the next group. ******* 

At Hammondsport, in the ravine above Mallory's Mill, we find 
about three hundred feet of rock exposed belonging to the 
Portage Group ; they are well characterized by the forcoides 
ffraphica. The mass exposed consists in the lower part prin- 
cipally of shale and thin layera of sandstone, and at a higher 
point numerous layers of sandstone from four to ten inches 
thick. The edges of all the layers exposed are covered with 
crystals of selenite or crystallized gypsum. About one mile 
from the mouth of this ravine an excavation for coal has been 
made in the black shale which alternates with the sandstone 
and olive shale. The indications of coal at this point were a 
few fragments of vegetables, iron pyrites,, and the odor of bitu- 
men arising from the shale. The work is at present aban- 


doned until some new excitement, or reported exhibition 
of burning gas shall induce others to engage in the enter- 
prise. ********* 
One mile north of Bath there is a stratum of very tough ar- 
gillo-calcareous rock three feet thick; This furnishes some of 
the finest building and foundation stone, and should be of 
such a quality as to receive a fine polish, it vrill be a valuable 
acquisition to the mineral vrealth of the county. * * 

The rocks of the Chemung group continue along the vaUey 
of the Conhocjxjn to Painted Post and as far the Tioga as 
the south Une of the State, the tops of the high hills ex- 
cepted, which are capped by conglomerate in a few places. 
The valley of the Canistes is bounded on both sides by al- 
most unbroken ranges of rock of the same group. The same 
rocks are seen along the valley of the Five Mill Creek which 
appears to have b«en formerly a continuation of the Canan- 
daigua Lake Valley. * * * * * * 

The valley of Loon Lake is the continuation of Hemlock 
Lake -and Springwater Valleys. In the neighborhood of the 
lake large accumulations of drift, arise in rounded hills fifty or 
sixty feet above the general level, and skirt the valley on 
either side. ******** 
The country known as Howard Flats is formed of drifl 
hiUs and ridges, but little elevated above the general level. I 
could not ascertain the depth of the drift, but the deepest 
wells do not reach its termination. * * * * 

Sandstone proper for grindstones are found along Bennett's 
and Rigg's creeks. ******* 
This place is about four hundred and five hundred feet above 
the Canistes and fifteen hundred feet above tide water. The 
source of Bennet's cveek is about eight hundred feet above 
the Canistes. Grindstones are obtained in Canistes on the 


land of Mr. Carter ; in WoodhuU, on the land of Wm. 
Stroud, Esq., and elsewhere in Jasper, on the land of Col. 
Towsley. And sandstone is quarried on the land of Mr. 
Marshall, near Lagrange, which is used for hearthstones, 
tombstones, etc. On the land of Mr. Davis, at Lagrange, a 
salt spring rises in the green shale. Several years since salt 
was made at this place and previously by the Indians. * * 
There are numerous beds of lake marl and tufa in this coun- 
ty. Near Arkport there is a bed of this kind which furnishes 
a considerable quantity of lime. In the town of Troups- 
burgh there is a bed of this marl. There is an extensive de- 
posit on the Canesaraga, south of Danville, from which lime 
is burned. The summit level between this creek and the 
Canisteo presents an extensive muck swamp, and some beds 
of marl but their extent^has not been ascertained." {State 
Qeol. Rep) 

We add the elevations of a few points above tide water : 
Seneca Lake, 44'7 feet; Mud Lake, 1,111 feet; summit be- 
tween these lakes, 1,644 feet ; Village of Bath, 1,090 feet ; 
summit between Mud Lake and Bath, 15?9 ; Arkport, 1194 ; 
summit between Bath and Arkport, 1840 ; summit between 
Arkport and Angelica, 2,062 ; Troupsburgh Hills, 2,500 ; 
Corning, 925; Hornellsville, 1,160 ; Crooked Lake, 718. 

Note. — The Mastodon's tooth alluded to above was dug from a bed of 
blue clay near the steam saw-mill of Mr. George Mitchell, in the Gulf 
Boad between Bath and Wheeler. It is eight or ten inches in length. A 
large bone was disinterred at the same place which crumbled on exposure 
to the air. Further examination will doubtless disclose other grinders of 
this huge beast and perhaps a pair of those broad tusks, curving outward- 
ly at the points, somewhat like scythes, which adorn the heads of its 
brethren foimd elsewhere, and with which one jamod able bodied fellow, 
sweeping his head to and fro in wrath, might mmv down an army of an- 
tagonists like meadow grass. 


The bed of clay in which the tooth was found is of unusual depth and 
tenacity, and it is guessed that the animal of which the said bone was an 
appurtenance while rambling through the gulf, indiscreetly bounced into 
the mire and was unable to disengage his ponderous feet. It is fiu:ther 
surmised that the bears may have pulled his skull ground after death but 
that the frame of his body remains where he mired. 





The early History of Steuben County 'cannot be a 
record of events 'whieh are called greai. The chop- 
ping of forests, the building of cabin-s, the founding of 
settlements, and the gradual subjugation of a most 
stubborn wilderness, are the only matters which can 
engage the attention of the chronicler. The events to 
be recounted are neither tragic nor terrible ; the trou- 
bles to be told are far from overwhelming ; the mys- 
teries are not mysterious, the disasters are not disas- 
trous. No battle has ever been fought within these 
boundaries. TheSe hills have not, within the memory 
of man, spouted fire or been shaien by an earthquake. 
No carved stones or rusty weapons have been found in 
the vallies which would indicate that this county was 
in past ages aught more than an abiding place of wild 
beasts and a hunting ground for barBarians. And yet, 
notwithstanding the dearth of noi^y heroism in our 


county's annals, it may be ayered that its citizens 
have accomplished, in the last sixty years, that which 
they may honestly be proud of, and that the -work which 
they have done in the woods has proved them to be 
stout-hearted, and strong-handed men. 

The record of events, previous to the settlement of 
the valley of the Chemung by American backwoods- 
men, must be but brief and unsatisfactory. Beginning 
our investigations at the earliest times when Eastern 
nations are believed to have caught glimpses of a West- 
ern world, no evidence can be found to warrant a be- 
lief that those ancient rovers, who are declared by the 
learned to have visited the American shores before Co- 
lumbus, ever strayed to that rugged region over which 
the supervisors of Steuben county now wave their demo- 
cratic sceptres.j The Phoenicians undoubtedly lived 
and died in ignorance of Loou'Lakp. No more traces 
are to be found of Madoc the Welshman than of Esau 
the Edomite. Biorn, the Northman, it is to be feared, 
never planted his Scandinarian heel upon our river- 
flats, and no rams-hprns have been found in the clefts 
of the rocks which by possibility may have been blown 
by the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel; 

Of those interesting relics of the ancient empires of 
the continent, which are digged f;fom the earth of the 
northern counties of our state, this county is utterly 
destitute. Mounds which may have been the tombs 
of kings coeval with Agamemnon ; battlements upon 
which princes greater than Cyrus, and captains migh- 
tier than HanniWll, may have stalked ; javelins of 
stranger fashion than the harpoons of the Argonauts ; 


graven images, suspected to have been cousins to Da- 
gonofthe Philistines; swords and truncheons of gigantic 
cavaliers ; and other strange relics of exterminated na- 
tions which Oswego, Onondaga and Genesee give up 
to the chronicler, are not found here. The farmer, it 
is true, may sometimes lay open with his plow the 
trench where lie the mouldering bones and the rust- 
eaten hatchet of one of those red consuls whose whoop- 
ing legionaries fired the wigwams of the Catawbas in 
the far South, or saluted from Illinois bluffs the Father 
of Waters : but as for antediluvians or giants, whose 
skeletons occasionally turn up in the fortunate coun- 
ties of the North, not one of those venerable pioneers 
to our knowledge, reposes on these Southern river-sides. 
Relinquishing, then, all hope of enriching these 
pages with extracts from the legers qf Phoenician tra- 
ders, the tax rolls of Israelitish colonists, the diaries 
of Welsh wanderers, or the log-books of Danish Pirates; 
and refraining from all discussion of the quality of the 
tenancy of those ancient settlers whose titles, if any they 
ever had, were long since extinguished, and who are 
not likely to set up claims against the grantees of 
Phelps and Gorham, all matters that transpired, or 
that may have transpired before the voyage of Colum- 
bus, may be dismissed without comment or conjecture. 
From the time of that event down to the period of the 
actual invasion of our country by the backwoodsmen? 
near the close of the last century, a faint light, hardly 
more satisfactory than the totkl darkness of previous 
time, rested upon our forests, but in searching for tan- 


gible facts, the Historian meets only chagrin and dis- 

At the time of the discovery, this region, with a 
large and indefinite territory, now comprising portions 
of several states, constituted the domain of the Five 
Nations, a fierce and crafty people, eloquent sometimes, 
and of proud bearing, the " Romans of the West," as 
some call them. For many years after the anchors of 
the discoverers first sank in the bays of the new found 
continent, these wild warriors dwelt in their Long-House 
unmolested by the Europeans who sought the Western 
world. The councillors of their dreaded league met 
for conference at Genesee or Onondaga castles ; their 
armies marched from the Mohawk to the Miami, and 
there was none to dispute their supremacy over the 
magrdficent forests of which their arms had made them 
the masters. But in a century and a half new com- 
motions began to agitate the wilderness. Enemies 
more formidable than the Huron or the Algonquin, en- 
camped on the borders of the domain of the Iroquois. 
The drums of England were heard in the South, and 
the bugles of France in the North. Britons stood girt 
for battle behind the windmills of Manhattan and the 
palisade's of Altany, while Gauls from the ramparts 
of Quebec, looked off over broad forests and wonderful 
valleys towards the Gulf of Mexico, and awaited the 
beginning of a contest which was to determine the des- 
tiny of a continent. 

The silence, which had fpr centuries pervaded the 
wilderness, was broken, and the chronicler may be rea- 
sonably required to gather from the battles, plots and 


treaties which ensued upon the meeting of these antag- 
onists, some thing which may be fairly claimed as part 
of the history of these ancient valleys. In the varied 
triumphs and disasters which diversified the long pro- 
tracted struggle of French, English, and Iroquois, it 
may rightfully demand of the annalist that he find 
some event in the history of these hemlock ravines over 
which rhetoric may rave, research puzzle, or poetry 

But the conscientious chronicler will be compelled 
to disappoint public expectation. As the clouds will 
sometimes roll up black and thunderous in the West, 
so that cattle fiy from the fields, and prudent towns- 
men inspect their lightning rods, and after all the 
storm drifts towards the North, and rains floods, and 
flings thunderbolts in our very sight : so did the great 
political tempest of colonial times rain itself dry along 
the shores of Ontario and the St. Lawrence, while our 
own ill-starred mountains parched. From the day 
when Champlain, the voyager, fired under the blufis of 
Ticonderoga the first musket volley that disturbed the 
forests of the Six Nations, down through a period of 
one hundred and sixty years, more than a half dozen 
armies, of a wild and picturesque composition, in- 
vaded, encamped, fought, and besieged, almost within 
sight of the Northern townships of this county, but 
had not the charity to fire so much as a pistol over its 
borders. Montcalm's bugles and Bradstreet's drums 
sounded through the neighboring grovel. Provincial 
rangers and Britons, French chevaliers and feathered 
sachems filed along the Ontario trails. There were 


treaties, alliances, plots and conyentions. There was 
also occasional oratory — as for example, the speech of 
Garanguala to De La Barre, the Canadian Governor, 
a masterpiece of daring and picturesque irony. Can- 
nonading at Niagara, at Oswego, at Frontenac, star- 
tled the wilderness. Yet, though all this fine tumult 
disturbed the secluded courts of the Long House, not 
even rumors of wars agitated the vaUeys of the Con- 
hocton and Tioga. It may be said that during the 
long contest for the rich plains and noble lakes of 
Western New York, our old hills sat quietly apart, 
like the camels of a captured caravan, while two hos-~ 
tile bands of robbers quarrelled for the booty. 

We gain, however, a single glimpse of the ancient 
time, which is of some interest, as revealing to our 
view the first communication of this country with the 
civilized world. Two centuries ago the still streams 
and the outlets of our lakes were alive with beaver. 
Many a harmonious phalanx of these sagacious little 
socialists revelled in undisturbed ponds, where they 
had lived generation after generation since the flood, 
and busied themselves with the building of dams and 
other industrial pursuits, with none to molest or make 
afraid. At length, however, remorseless Dutch tra- 
ders established themselves at Albany, and combining 
with French merchants in the forts of Canada, laid 
foul plots against these tranquil republics, tempting 
the barbarians with bells and bright knives to begin 
the work of destruction. So presently the red hunts- 
men might have been seen skulking through the wil- 
lows that overhung the creeks, and setting snares for 


the feet of the honest and unsuspecting beaver. Hun- 
dreds of these poor creatures suddenly found them- 
selves bereft of their fur, and long-limbed savages, 
laden with ill-got plunder, hurried through the 
forests to the forts of the rapacious traderj?. Thus 
the first demand of the aristocracy of Europe upon 
our county was for the hides of its citizens — a very 
singular request, and one which the indignant repub- 
lican will remember in connection with the tribute paid 
at this day to the Royalty of Hanover. 

A little more than a century after the massacre of 
the beaver, the Revolutionary war was raging through 
the land. Here again the Historic Muse displayed 
her ungraciousness, and refused to refresh our parch- 
ing chronicles with a single skirmish. While the 
whole neighborhood in the North, East, and South, 
was alive with rangers and Indians, and rang daily 
with conflicts, scalpings, and burnings, silence of the 
grave reigned in our slumbering forests. The utmost 
that can be said for our county in setting up a revo- 
lutionary claim for it is, that it was sometimes a place 
of preparation for the ferocious allies of Great Britain 
before their attacks on the frontiers, and a place of 
retreat after the slaughter. The utmost border settle- 
ments of our countrymen at that time in the States of 
New York and Pennsylvania were in the upper valley 
of the Mohawk, on the headwaters of the Susque- 
hanna, west of the Catskills, in the Wyoming coun- 
try, and on the west Branch of the Susquehanna. 
Down the valleys of the Conhocton, Canisteo, and 
Chemung, and up the valley of the Tioga, ran the 


trails by which sometimes the Tories and Indians stole 
upon the settlements in Pennsylvania from Fort Nia- 
gara, and by -which again their bands, like hounds re- 
turning from the hunt, hurried to that notorious old 
kennel to be fed by their keepers. 

Hardly a fact, however, with regard to the move- 
ments of our county's primitive citizens during the 
war is preserved for us. An intrepid imagination 
might do much toward filling this unfortunate blank in 
our annals, but till such a one assumes the task, each 
one must be content to make a Revolutionary History 
for himself out of such hints as may lawfully be sug- 
gested. Each must imagine as he can the wolfish fra- 
ternity of Tories and Indians traversing the war-trails 
of our|pvilderness. Hiakatoo, Little Beard, Brant, 
and the Great Captains of the Six Nations holding 
council under elm-trees by the Chemung — the British 
■ officer, conspicuous with his sash and pistols, confer- 
ring by moonlight with savage chieftains that lean on 
their rifles, without the encampment, on the river 
bank, where the wild warriors are sleeping — the occa- 
sional squadron of canoes gliding down the swift 
stream toward the farms below on the Susquehanna. 
Now a file of barbarians descends the Canisteo trail 
from the north, turns up the Tioga and disappears. 
Soon their hatchets glitter afar off on the Laurel Ridge. 
Next is heard at midni^t the ringing of rifles on the 
West Branch, and the shouting of the borderers 
as the blaze of their cabins lights up thewooded 
cliffs around. Strange processions sometimes strag- 
gle up the vallies. Now the mongrel hounds of 


old Fort Niagara return from encounters with the for- 
esters of Pennsylvania, shattered and discomfited ; 
but again the marauders return with scalps dangling at 
their belts, hurrying along captives, •women and chil- 
dren •who grow weary and are tomahawked, and also 
stout and weary woodsmen who must be bound and 
watched lest they rise in the jiight and beat out the 
brains of their captors. 

In the midst of the war the first lumbermen of the 
Caniateo may be seen on its upper waters hewing down 
pine trees, and shaping them by fire and steel into 
canoes. One would in vain search for the peers of that 
savage gang among the boisterous raftmen who, in 
modern day build their fleet in the eddies of that quiet 
stream. When the work is done and the littl^alleys 
are launched, what a lovely crew embarks ! Tne But- 
lers with their merciless renegades, the chosen chiefs 
of the Six Nations, the fiercest soldiers of the forest, 
all with their war trapping and weapons ride in the 
slender canoes down the stream— down through the si- 
lent gorges, over the brawling rifts — then emerging 
from island-groves of elm descend the strong Tioga, 
then bending their long file into the Chemung, disappear 
beyond eur borders in that blue notch chosen for the 
river's course in the hills below. This was the Armada 
that bore the destroyers of Wyoming.* 

* The canoea -which earried a large party of Tories and Indians to 
Wyoming in I'JTS, were made on the Canisteo. At the settlement 
of the upper valley of that river the trunks of trees,'whlch proTing^ 
unfit for use had been abandoned after having been partially ■wrought, 
with other traces of work, and some tools and weapons, were found 


SuUiran's two hundred barges move from Otsego 
and Wilkesbarre to Newtown. His five thousand men 
march northward through the wilderness, barely brush- 
ing the edge of our county. We hear a great crack- 
ling of villages on fire, of burning corn-stacks, and a 
lively crashing of orchards and skirmishing of scouts, 
but a few miles from our northern towns. That sin- 
gular fatality however which marks our earliest history 
forbids a scout to be tortured, a corporal to be sca.lped, 
or even a pack-horse to be beheaded within the baili- 
wick of our own Sheriff. A few adventurous boatmen, 
however moved up the Chemung to see what land might, 
lie on the upper branches of that unknown river.* 

•on theArm of Col. J. R. Stephens near Hornelsville. The settlers 
had thi"aot also from the Indians. 

* Gen. Sullivan, invaded the territory of the Six Nations in 1719, 
penetrated the midst of their forests, destroyed many of their vil- 
lages, cut down their orchards, laid waste their cornfields, and inflict- 
ed on these impracticahle savages a portion of the miseries which 
the frontiers had suffered from their hands during the previous years 
of the war. The destruction of life, however, was but inconsidera- 
ble. The Indians and Tories made a stand at Newtown, but were 
■summarily routed. The residue of the fighting in the campaign was 
adjusted by scouting parties. 

The traditions held by some that detachments of this army pene- 
trated Steuben county, are probably without foundation. The oldest 
settlers consulted in the preparation of this sketch (Capt. Woolcott 
and Judge Knox of the town of Corning,) did not hear of the ru- 
mored sKrmish at the brook called " Bloody Run" in the old town of 
" Painted Post. At the time of the settlement, however, there were 
painted trees near that stream where the Indians were said (or gues- 
sed) to have tortured prisoners. Sullivan moved from Newtown, 
(Elmira) to the head-of the Seneca by the Horseheads (where he 


It appears, therefore, that Steuben County, from the 
earliest ages to the close of the Revolutionary War, was 
but a jungle of barbarism, -without name and without 
history. Invading whirlwinds sometimes crushed the 
hemlocks of the hills in their courses, insurgent floods 
sometimes poured through the defiles with a tumult 
like the roar of a multitude, and the rival houses of 
wolf and bear, enlivened the wilderness with civil 
strife ; but concerning human onslaughts and insurrec- 
tions, the chroniclers of the Six Nations are silent, 
and the hope of recovering the memory of them must 
be forever dismissed. It remains, then, only to consi- 
der how the race which broke into these solitudes after 
the Revolution acquired their title to the same, and 
how they accomplished the great work which .th^s day 
beholds performed. 

The freeholders of Steuben County generally derive 
their titles from Sir William Pulteney, of England, 
and his heirs. Sir William acquired his title from 
Robert Morris, Morris from Phelps and Gorham, the 
latter from the State of Massachusetts, and that com- 
monwealth held under the Royal Charter of James I, 
King of Great Britain. How King James became the 
proprietor of this tract of land, it would not be easy to 
say, unless we adopt the presumption which the law 
sometimes establishes in cases of unaccountable pos- 

WUed a large number of pack-horses,) thence between the lakes to 
the outlet, thence to the Genesee, and returned by the same route. 
There is nothing in the ofScial report of the General, or in the pub- 
lished journals of officers accompa<>ying the expedition, to support 
the traditions alluded to. 


session of chattels, and aver that he " casually found 

The grants of the colonies of Massachusetts and 
Connecticut, comprised vast tracts of land extending 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, including large 
portions of the present States of New York and Penn- 
sylvania. The latter provinces loudly denied the 
validity of the royaLgrahts, so far as they affected the 
territory within their boundaries, as at present settled, 
and the controversy arising from the claims of their 
sister provinces, was a fruitful source of correspond- 
ence and worse, between the rival claimants. In Penn- 
sylvania it proceeded to blows. Colonists from Connec- 
ticut established themselves in the famous valley of 
Wyomipg, and resisted with arms the edicts of the As- 
sembly and the officers of the high courts of the latter 
commonwealth. Heads were bruised, bones broken, 
crops destroyed, settlements plundered, and even lives 
lost, and the peace of the Susquehanna Valley was 
destroyed by a feud "worthy of the middle ages. In 
1774, for example, an army of 700 Pennsylvanians 
moved up the rivet to conquer the intruders, but at 
the defile of Nantieoke, their boats being stopped by 
an ice-jam, and themselves confronted, by a fortifica- 
tion, hostilities were terminated by a rousing volley 
/rom the bushes, and a rousing volley into the bushes, 
the latter killing one man.* 

The controversy between New York and Massachu- 
setts never reached such deplorable virulence as that 

*Iafe of Major Van Campen. 


between the other two provinces. In the war of Re- 
volution, private quarrels were by common consent sus- 
pended, and not long after that contest, the diflSculty 
was adjusted. On the 16th day of December, 1786, 
by a compact entered into between the States of New 
York and Massachusetts, it was agreed that the latter 
State should release to the former all claim of sove- 
reignty over lands lying within the present boundaries 
of the former, and that the State of New York should 
release and confirm to the State of Massachusetts the 
right of pre-emption of the soil from the Indians, of 
the greater part of New York lying west of Seneca 

On the 21st day of November, 1788, the State of • 
Massachusetts, for the consideration of three hundred 
thousand pounds in the consolidated securities of that 
State, ($100,000,) conveyed to Oliver Phelps and Na- 
thaniel Gorham, all its right, title, and interest to 
lands in Western New York, which now constitute the 
counties of Steuben, Yates, Ontario, part of Wayne, 
most of Monroe, a small part of Genesee and Living- 
ston, and about one half of Allegany ; containing about 
2,600,000 acres. The Indian title to this tract had 
been purchased by Messrs. Phelps & Gorham by trea-/ 
ty, at a convention held at Buffalo, in July, 1788. '-•^ 

The purchasers speedily caused their lands to be\ 
surveyed and divided into seven ranges, numbered from 
east to west by lines running north and south. The 
ranges, which were six miles in width, were sub- ■ 
divided into townships designed to be six miles square, 
and the townships were farther sub-divided into lots. 


That portion of the purchase which now constitutes 
Steuben Coutity, was surveyed for Phelps & Gorham 
by Frederick Saxton, Augustus Porter, now of Niag- 
ara Falls, Thomas Davis and Robert James, (or by the 
two first named,) in the summer of 1789. Judge Por- 
ter, in his narrative, published in Tur-ner's History of 
the Holland Purchase, says, with regard to this survey, 
^' While engaged in it, we made our head-quarters at 
Painted Post, on the Conhocton River, at the house of 
old Mr. Harris and his son William. These two men, 
Mr. Goodhue, who lived near by, and Mr. Mead, who 
lived at the mouth of Mead's Creek, were the only 
persons then on the territory we were surveying." 

Mr. Phelps opened an office for the sale of land at 
Canandaigua. The fame of the Genesee Country had 
been spread through all the East. Sullivan's soldiers 
brought from the wilderness glowing accounts of vast 
meadows and luxurient orchards hidden amongst the 
forests of the Six Nations, and the adventurous men 
of New England and Pennsylvania were not backward 
to seek new homes in the fastnesses of their old ene- 
mies. Before the middle of November, in 1790, about 
50 townships had been sold, the most of which were 
purchased by the township or half township, by indi- 
viduals or companies of farmers.* 

The settlement of Steuben County was commenced 
under grants from Messrs. Phelps and Gorham, but 
for convenience the whole history of the title to the 
county may be here stated. 

*Turner's Holland Purchase. 


Messrs. Phelps and Gorham, by deed dated tlie 18tli 
day of November, 1790, conveyed to Robert Morris 
of Philadelphia, (the patriotic merchant of Revolution- 
ary memory) the residue of their lands remaining un- 
sold, amounting to about a million and a quarter 

Robert Morris, by deed dated the 11th day of April, 
1792, conveyed to Charles Williamson about one 
million two hundred thousand acres of the Phelps and 
Gorham tract, which has been since known as the 
Pulteney estate. Mr. Williamson held this estate in 
secret trust for Sir William Pulteney, an English 
Baronet, and others. In March, 1801, Mr. William- 
son conveyed the estate formally to Sir William 
Pulteney, an act having been passed by the Legisla- 
ture of New York in 1798, authorizing conveyances to 
aliens for the term of three years. This conveyance 
was made three days before the expiration of the act 
by its own limitation. 

Sir William Pulteney was the son of Sir James 
Johnstone. He assumed the name of Pulteney on hiis 
marriage with Mrs. Pulteney, niece of the Earl of 
Bath, and daughter of General Pulteney. He died 
in 1805, leaving Henrietta Laura Pulteney, Countess 
of Bath, his only heir. Lady Bath died in 1808, in- 
testate. The Pulteney estate descended to Sir John 
Lowther Johnstone, of Scotland, her cousin and heir-at- 
law. Sir John Lowther Johnstone died in 1811, and 
devised the estate in fee to Ernest Augustus Duke of 
Cumberland, (since King of Hanover,) Charles Herbert 
Pierrepoint, Masterton Ure and David Cathcart (Lord 


Alloway,) in trust, nevertheless, to sell the same as 
speedily as possible, and to pay and discharge the in- 
cumbrances on his estates in England and Scotland, 
and to purchase copyhold estates adjacent to his 
estates in Scotland. John Gordon was afterwards 
appointed a trustee of the estate, in the place of 
Pierrepoint (the Earl of Manvers,) who in 1819 re- 
linquished his trust. The present trustees (since the 
death of the King of Hanover) are Masterton Ure and 
John Gordon. 

The policy of the proprietors and trustees has been 
to sell the lands as rapidly as possible to actual set- 
tlers. In sixty years, as might be expected, by far 
the greatest and most valuable portion of the State has 
been disposed of, but considerable tracts of wild land 
yet remain unsold. 

The validity of the title to the Pulteney estate has 
never been the subject of judicial construction in the 
highest court of the Statre. A cause now before the 
Court of Appeals, (decided in favor of the proprietors 
in the Supreme Court,) will pobably set at rest the 
question of title. 





On the morning of Christmas-day, in the year 1T87, 
a backwoodsman and an Indian issued from the door 
of a log cabin which stood half buried in snow on the 
point of land lying between the Cowenisque Creek and 
the Tioga River, at the junction of those streams, and 
set forth on thei ice of the river for a journey to the 
settlements below. They were clad according to the 
rude fashions of the frontiers and the forest, in gar- 
ments partly obtained by barter from outpost traders, 
and partly stripped by robbery from the beasts of the 
forest. Tomahawks and knives were stuck in their belts, 
snow shoes were bound to their feet, and knapsacks of 
provisions were lashed to their backs. Such was the 
equipment deemed necessary for travellers in Steuben 
County not a century ago. 

The snow lay upon the ground four full feet in 
depth. It was brought from the north in one of those 
might storms which in former days often swept down 


from Canadian regions and poured the treasures of the 
snowy zone on our colonial foresta-r-storms which sel- 
dom visit us in modern days — as if the passage of tariiF 
hills, which have cramped the operations of many heavy 
British-American firms, had made it impracticable for 
Polar capitalists to introduce their fabrics into the 
Commonwealth of New York with the profusion which 
•was encouraged in the times of the Eiiglish governors. 
The' pioneer and his saTage comrade pursued their 
journey on the ice. The Tioga was then a wild and 
free river. From its source, far up in the "Magnolia 
hills" of the old provincial maps, down to its union 
with the equally wild and free Conhocton, no device of 
civilized man fretted its noble torrent. A single habi- 
tation of human beings stood upon its banks, the log 
cabin at the mouth of the Cowenisque ; and that was 
the westernmost cabin of New York.* But it bore now 
upon its frozen surface the forerunner of an unresting 
raqe of lumbermen and farmers, who in a few years in- 
vaded its, peaceful solitudes, .dammed its wild flood, 
and hewed down the lordly forests through which it 
flowed. The travellers kept on their course beyond 
the mouth of the Canisteo to the Painted Post. Here 
they expected to find the cabin of one Harris, a trader, 
where they might have lodgings for the night, and, if 
necessary for the comfort of the savage breast, a 
draught from " the cup which ch.eei^s (and also) inebri- 
ates." On their arrival at th^ head of the Chemung, 

* In strict truth, the cabin stood in PennsjWania, a few rods from 
ihe New Tork line. 


however, they founij that the cabin had been destroyed 
by fire. The trader had either been murdered by the 
Indians, or devoured by wild beasts, or else he had left 
the country, and Steuben County was in consequence 

Disappointed in this hope, the two travellers con- 
tinued their journey on the ice as far as Big Flats. 
Here night overtook them. They kindled a fire on* 
the bank of the river, and laid them down to sleep. 
The air was intensely cold. It was one of those clear, 
still, bitter nights, when the moon seems an iceberg, 
and the stars are bright and sharp like hatchets. The 
savage rolled himself up in his blanket, lay with his 
back to the fire, and did not so much as stir till the 
morning ; but his companion, though framed of that 
stout stuff out of which backwoodsmen are built, could 
not sleep for the intensity of the cold. At midnight a 
pack of wolves chased a deer from the woods to the 
river, seized the wretched animal on the ice, tore it to 
pieces and devoured it within ten rods of the encamp- 
ment., Ea.rly in the morning the travellers arose and 
went thioir way to the settlements below, the first of 
which was Newtown, on ^he sight of; the present village 
of Elmira. 

• Siich is one of the eiarliest glimpses of Our county 
granted us. Journies, are performed in rather a differ- 
ent manner now ! The incidents of the trip sound 
oddly enough to the ear of the: 'modern traveller— th6 
oxcursion on snow shoes — the possible destruction of 
the village of Painted Post by the Indians— ^the en- 
campment' and night fire under the trees by the river 


bank, on a stinging Christmas night, while frost-bitten 
wolves regaled the ears of the travellers with dismal 
howling ! The backwoodsman was Samuel Baker, a 
New Englander, afterwards well known to our citizens 
as Judge Baker, of Pleasant Valley. 

This is a winter scene. The Descriptive and His- 
torical " Citizen " gives in his sketch* a summer pic- 
*ture, — " a picture of our county as it was a few sum- 
mers before the irruption of the backwoodsmen ; for 
this, the figure of our rugged home arrayed in its an- 
cient and barbarous yet picturesque and noble garb, is 
one which the reflecting citizen will sometime contem- 
plate in imagination, with pleasure, and not without 
some degree of wonder. 

" On a summer's day, shortly after the close of the 
War of Revolution, let the observing citizen stand with 
me on an exceedingly high mountain and survey the 
land. It is a vast solitude, with scarce a sound to 
break the reigning silence but the splashing of the 
brooks in their defiles, and the brawling of the rivers 
at the rifts, or perhaps the creaking of sulky old hem- 
locks as the light wind stirs their branches o-r sways 
their tottering trunks slowly to and fro. What a noble 
forest is this, covering the valleys and the high, 
rounded hills, and the steep sides of the winding gulfs, 
and the crests of the successive ranges that rise above 
each other till the outline of a blue and curving barrier 
is traced against the sky. For ages upon ages has this 
land been a wilderness. Savages have hunted in it. 

* " Descriptive and Historical Sketch of Steuben County," 

(M S.) politely placed at the disposal of the Editor of this volume. 


' Storms have passed over it, and its history would pre- 
sent but a record of wild beasts slain, of trees uprooted, 
and of the passage of terrible whirlwinds which broke 
wide lanes through the forest and overthrew the tim- 
bers of whole hill-sides. See how the three rivers flow 
through groves of elm and willow, while the white 
sycamores, standing on uninolested islands, raise aloft 
their long branches where the cranes rest with the 
plunder of the shallows. Free rivers are these, flow- 
ing joyously through the channels provided for them of 
old, shackled by no dams, insulted by no bridges, tor- 
mented by no saw-mills. They bear with gladness the*" 
occasional canoe of the people that gave them their 
sounding names ; they give drink to the heated deer, 
to the panther, and the wallowing bear, — disgusted by 
no base-born beasts of the yoke wading their stony 
fords, nor by geese swimming in their clear waters, 
nor by swine lounging in the warm mud of the eddies. 
See, also, the lakes sleeping in the hollows prepared 
for them anciently, their bluffs and beaches occupied 
even to the water's edge with forest trees, while soli- 
tary loons and fleets of wild fowl cruise on their waters, 
scared by neither the wheels of the passing steamer, 
nor by the whistling bullets of fowlers. Behold too 
the creeks, the brooks, the torrents, leaping down from 
the highlands like;, hearty young mountaineers; while in 
the ravines through which th-ey brawl the great pines 
stand as if dreaiping, unconscious that their gigantic 
trunks contain spars and saw-logs. 

" But jthe forest is not destitute of an active popu- 
lace. Bears sit growling at [the windows .of their tow- 


ers in the hollow trees ; painted catamounts lurk in the 
glens; panthers crouch on the low branches of the 
oaks ; elk and many thousand deer are standing in the 
ponds or browsing in the thickets ; while hungry gangs 
of wolves rove at dusk through the groves with dismal 
howling. And these are not the only citizens of the 
wood. There we see the myriads of squirrels, the 
wood-fowls whistling and drumming in the thickets, 
the old and clumsy sons of the she-bear tumbling in 
the leaves in their awkward play, the comical raccoons 
frolicking in the tree-tops, while the wise and sober 
woodchuck goes forth alone, and the otter cruises in 
the still waters of the streams. 

" All these things, let the observing citizen mark, — 
these far rolling forests, these silent lakes and wild 
rivers, these savage creeks and torrents, these gorges 
and wooded glens, these deep-worn valleys and the ab- 
rupt ranges that bound them, and the promontories 
that jut from the everchanging outlines of the ranges, — 
all as they were in the ancient time before I begin the 
story of their conquest, — a half melancholy story ; for 
who can think how these solitudes were broken up and 
these fine forests mangled without a half-regretful 
thought 1 

" The wilderness is doomed. Even now as we stand 
on the mountain the men who will invade it are astir. 
Down on the Susquehanna uneasy farmers are already 
working their way upward in broad barges; uneasy 
New Englanders are already launching canoes on the 
Unadilla, which will find their way hither. Even now 
Scotchmen, Irishmen, and Englishmen are tossing on 


the seas who in a few years will live in these valleys, 
farmers and tradesmen, and even supervisors, Justices 
of the Peace, and Judges. Barharism, drawing its 
fantastic blanket over its shoulders, and clutching its 
curiously-wrought tomahawk, must withdraw to other 
solitudes, jingling its brazen ornaments and whooping 
as it goes." 

Such was our County as seen by the " Citizen" be- 
fore the year ITST. There are a few additional facts 
which escaped his notice on the " exceedingly high 
mountain," which may with propriety be mentioned 
before proceeding to the narration of events connected 
with the settlement. 

This whole region, — especially that part of it occu- 
pied by the valleys of the Conhocton and Canisteo, — 
was of old one of the best hunting grounds belonging 
to the Six Nations, and was visited in the winter and 
autumn by large parties of Seneca Indians, who came 
from their villages on the Genesee for the destruction 
of game. It was a royal park indeed — and yet of 
course not such a park as the elegant deer-folds of 
Europe thus named — but rather like those rugged and 
unkempt Asiatic parks, where the Nimrods and Cy- 
ruses of old, with their peers and captains, made war 
upon lions and tigers, and boars ; only here were un- 
fortunately neither boars, nor tigers, nor lions, and, 
to speak truly, but shabby substitutes for such noble 
game. It was only when the wild huntsman grappled- 
with the wounded panther or scuffled with the angry 
bear, or dodged the horns of the furious stag, that the 
perils of the chase deserved record with the exploits of 


those worthies of old, who pricked lions iu the jungles 
with their Assyrian pikes. Still, of very rude and 
ugly beasts there was no scarcity. Of bears and pan- 
thers there were quite as many as the County could 
support even under a system of direct taxation for that 
purpose, and when we take into account beside these, 
the large and happy communities of rattlesnakes and 
catamounts which flourished in eligible localities, there 
is no reason why the patriotic citizen should feel mor- 
tified at our county's ancient census returns. 

There are certain facts with regard to the rivers 
which do not appear in the Citizen's " Sketch." Be- 
fore the settlement of the county, the rivers were much 
deeper, stronger, and steadier, than they are at the 
present day. In modern times they are notoriously 
unreliable servants of the people — sometimes reducing 
the saw-mills to half-rations, and confining the eels to 
limited elbow-room ; anon rising above their banks, 
flooding the flats, sweeping away piles of lumber, and 
testing the labors of the commissioners of highways 
and bridges, as is the undoubted right of every river 
in this republican land. The destruction of the forests 
has caused the drying up of multitudes of little springs 
which formerly, by their penny contributions to the 
great sinking-fund, swelled appreciably the treasures 
of the streams. Freshets can be had on shorter notice 
now than then, but they are of shorter duration. Then, 
the snow melting in the woods slowly, caused the 
March and April floods to be deliberate and of long 
continuance. Now, the snow falling upon bare hills 
and open farms, melts rapidly at sunshine and shower, 


rushes into the ravines and swells the creeks with vio- 
lent and short-lived freshets. Many channels whicli 
■were formerly the beds of petty, but perennial brooks,. 
are now " dry runs," except after rains, when they 
are filled with powerful torrents. The State Geolo- 
gist apprehends serious inconvenience from the failure 
of water, if the destruction of the forest is continued 
in the future as extravagantly as during the last fifty 

Our ancient rivers, in addition to their superiority 
in depth and power to the shallow streams which to- 
day wind through our valleys, were far more correct in 
their habits and firm in their principles than the mo- 
dern waters — ^not being so easily persuaded to indulge 
in irregularities, and not taking advantage of every 
winter-thaw, to rise up, and go off on a " bender," as 
it were, with the creeks and runnels, like a crew of 
light-headed youngsters. And yet it is not to be sup- 
posed that they refrained entirely from such extrava- 
gances. Early settlers well remember how the lower 
valley of the Tioga was flooded from hill to hill fully a 
mile, deep enough, almost, at the shallowist, to swim 
a horse; and how men, near Painted Post, paddled their 
canoes in the roads for miles. This was about forty- 
five years ago. 

The rivers were furthermore grievously afflicted 
with flood-wood. They bore down with their strong- 
est waters annual tribute to the Susquehanna, of 
trees, broken trunks, and enormous roots — the bullion 
of the forest — like savage chiefs of. the mountain, bear- 
ing gifts to the prince of the plains, of rough ores, un- 


■wrought gems, and the feathers of strange birds. In 
modern days we continue this tribute, but in a differ- 
ent form, as evidence of our improved state — coining the 
uncooth bullion into boards or huge ingots of timber. 
Notwithstanding the great quantities of flood-wood 
from which the rivers freed themselves by the occasion- 
al floods, there were yet large masses of this raft which 
the freshet did not loosen, or at most, shifted 'from 
point to point. The two lesser rivers were fairly 
strangled by these dams. Navigation, for any craft 
-heavier that the birch canoe of the pagan, was utterly 
impracticable. After the settlement of the county, 
these collections of flood- wood were chopped a,nd burn- 
ed away at a considerable public expense. Something 
has been done, too, toward straightening the navigable 
istreams. Upon the whole, it would appear that our 
county contained in old times, a very heedless and law- 
less family of waters. The rivers were badly snarled. . 
It is one of the most pleasing results of a judicious civ- 
ilization that these tangled torrents have been combed 
out smoothly, and that the mountain Creeks, which then 
like wild colts came leaping through th§ ravines, have 
at last been caught in huge timber traps so ingeniously 
contrived with bulkheads and flooms, that there was 
really no chance of escape for these lively streams, 
and have been given to understand that all this caper- 
ing through the glens, and leaping over the rocks, 
might be excused when the poor Indian who knew no- 
thing about hydraulics held the land, but that they 
must now come into the harness and carry saw-logs 
and turn under-shot wheels. 


Considering all these things — the forests, the, hills, 
the shaded islands, the wild beasts, and the untamed 
rivers — our county appears to have been truly a fast- 
ness of barbarism. Its ancient tenants did not yield 
it without a long battle, fought inch by inch with fire 
and steel. Mountains and rivers formed a league. 
The mountains displayed the fortitude of martyrs. 
When beset by merciless farmers, they resolutely re- 
fused to give up their treasures. Dumb and obstinate 
they were stripped of their raiment, they were flayed, 
they were torn with plows and harrows, they were 
scorched with fire — like Jews in the castles of the old 
barons — and only surrendered their hidden wealth af- 
ter the most dreadful tortures. The rivers, with equal 
fidelity, resisted the inroads of the back-woodsmen. 
The " Citizen" says, " If the rivers of this county 
were anciently populated with any tribe of Indian bo- 
gles, or water-imps, (and there is no good reason for 
supposing that they were not,) I should say that these 
invisible citizens mustered for a last stand, in de- 
fence of their homes. They built barricades of flood- 
wood, they piled up ba.ttlements of great roots, they 
pulled down mighty sycamores to fortify the rifts. But 
they were overpowered like the insurgents of Paris. 
Their barricades were broken with axes or desti'oyed 
by fire, and the fleets of the pioneers pushed their way 
up the rivers by degrees, driving before them these un- 
lucky little aborigines." 

There were many patches of land on the river flats, 
which were free from timber. At the north of the 
Canisteo there was an " open flat" of some two hun- 


dred acres. In the upper valley of that river there 
was a much larger one. There were open flats near 
the Painted Post and up the Tioga, and a single one 
on the Conhocton — the fine meadows south of the vil- 
vage of Bath. 

There was at this time a man living near Northum- 
berland, in Pennsylvania, who afterwards became a 
noted citizen of this county ; and although his con- 
nection with it did not begin till after the first settle- 
ments were made, yet, for convenience, a brief sketch 
of him may be introduced- 


Of great renown, towards the close of the last cen- 
tury, throughout all the hill-country of the West, was 
Ben Patterson, the hunter. From the mid-branches 
of the Susquehanna to the most north-western waters of 
that river, there was not one of greater fame. Cou- 
rageous and energetic of spirit, and powerful of frame, 
he explored the forests of Pennsylvania, roved over 
the ridges and through the ravines of the Alleganies, 
navigated untried rivers, discovered mines and hidden 
valleys, gave names to creeks and mountains, and 
guided adventures through the wildei-ness. 

Sometimes he was a hunter ; sometimes an Indian 
fighter ; sometimes a spy ; sometimes a Moses to des- 
pairing emigrants ; sometimes forrester to backwoods 
barons. He had been associated with all the noted 
characters of the frontier : with Gurty, the renegade ; 
with Murphy, the runner; with Van Campen, the 


ranger; with Hammond, the fighter. He knew the 
farmers of Wyoming, the riflemen of the West Branch, 
and the warriors of Niagara. To bears, panthers, 
and wolves, to elk, deer, and beaver, he was an Alaric. 
The number of these beasts that fell before his rifle 
almost passes account. In the latter years of his life, 
when an old man, living on his farm by the Tioga, and 
game began to become scarce, he thought it necessary 
to put a narrow limit to his annual destruction of deer, 
and in each year thereafter laid up his rifle when he 
had killed an hundred. He was not a mere destroyer 
of wild beasts, but a man of keen observation, of re- 
markable powers of memory, of intelligence, of judg- 
ment, and withal of strict integrity. He possessed 
great powers of narration. Not only children and 
rough men of the frontier, but men of learning, listen- 
ed hour after hour to his thousand tales. The late 
Chief Justice Spencer, when Circuit Judge, once met 
him at the Mud Creek tavern, in this county, and was 
so interested with his graphic descriptions of wild 
scenery and wood life, that he sat up all night with 
him engaged in conversation ; and always after, when 
holding court at Bath, sent for the hunter, provided 
for him at the hotel, and passed in his company a 
great part of his time off the bench. 

Mr. Patterson was born in London county, in the 
State of Virginia, in the year 1759, and died in 1830, 
at Painted Post, having been for the last thirty-five 
years of his life a citizen of this county. His mother 
was a cousin of Daniel Boone, the first of th« Ken- 
tuckians. Early in life he removed with the family of 


his step-father to Pennsylvania, and passed the greater 
part of his youth in that State, though living for a 
time again in Virginia. It was on the Susqehanna 
frontiers that his hunting tastes were formed and de- 

During the Revolutionary war he served in a rifle- 
corps, organized for the defence of the borders, and in 
this perilous service met with many adventures. At 
the skirmish of Freeling's Fort, in 1779, he and Ks 
younger brother Robert (who afterwards was also a 
citizen of this county) fought in the party of Captain 
Hawkins Boone, and narrowly escaped with their lives. 
Freeling's Fort, on the West Branch of the Susque- 
hanna, had been taken by a party of Tories and In- 
dians, the former under the command of McDonald, a 
noted loyalist of Tryon county, in New York, and the 
latter led by Hiakatoo (the husband of Mary Jemison 
" the white woman.") Captain Boone's party of 
thirty-two volunteered to scout in the neighbor- 
hood of the captured fort, and to attack the ene- 
my if it could be advantageously done. They 
advanced cautiously, and succeeded in concealing 
themselves in a cluster of bushes overlooking the 
camp of the enemy. Both tories and Indians 
were engaged in cooking or eating, while a single 
sentinel, a fine tall savage, with a blanket drawn over 
his head, walked slowly to and fro. Boone's men com- 
menced firing by platoons of six. The sentry sprang 
into the air with a whoop and fell dead. The enemy 
yelling frightfully ran to arms and opened a furious 
but random fire at their unseen foes. Their bullets 


rattled through the bushes where Boone's men lay hid, 
but did no mischief. The slaughter of Indians and 
Tories was dreadful. The thirty-two rangers firing 
coolly and rapidly by sixes, with the ugerring aim of 
frontiersmen, shot down one hundred and fifty (so the 
story runs) before the enemy broke and fled. Boone's 
men, with strange indiscretion, rushed from their 
covert in pursuit, and immediately exposed their 
weakness of numbers. Hiakatoo with his Indians 
made a circuit, and attacked them in the rear, while 
McDonald turned upon their front. They were sur- 
rounded. " Save yourselves men as you can," cried 
Captain Boone. The enemy closed with tomahawks and 
spears. This part of the fight occurred in the midst 
of the woods. The rangers broke through their foes, 
and fled with such success that many escaped, but 
their captain and more than half of his men were 
killed. Robert Patterson, who was very swift of foot, 
was followed several- miles to the clearings of another 
fort by three or four fleet Indians. Seeing that he 
would escape from them, his pursuers reserved their 
fire till he should clamber over the fence which enclosed 
the clearing, when they might aim at him with greater 
certainty than while he was running through the 
woods. He however sprang to the top rail at a bound 
and escaped. The bullets struck the wood just under 
his feet. Benjamin Patterson, in the meantime, had 
hidden himself under a log overgrown . with vines or 
briars. The Indians ransacked the woods all around, 
and passed so near his hiding place that he could touch 
their moccasins with his ramrod. Many times he 


thought himself discovered, and was on the point of 
springing forth to die fighting, but the Indians gradu- 
ally wandered away from his vicinity. The last strag- 
gler returning from the pursuit carried the dripping 
scalp of the offly red-haired man in the party, which he 
was twirling around his finger with great delight. 
" I was strongly tempted to shoot that fellow," said 
Patterson, but on reflecting that the main body of the 
Indians was not distant, he thought it prudent to deny 
himself that pleasure. At night he escaped to Boone's 

The enemy re-took the prisoners of Freeling's Fort, 
and carried away many captives to Niagara. Patter- 
son, in a company of rangers, pursued. They believed 
that the Indians had a great many wounded with them, 
for at the deserted encampments bushels of slippery- 
elm bark were found, which had been pounded in pre- 
paring draughts and dressings.* The enemy struck 
over from Pine Creek to the Tioga, and passed up the 
valley of the Conhocton to Niagara. 

Patterson was engaged throughout the war in the 
perilous frontier-services ; sometimes scouting with the 
wary and fearless captains of the borders ; sometimes 
skirmishing in the forests ; sometimes devising plots 

* Oaptain Montour, the chief who was buried at the Painted Post 
was in McDonald's band, and died from wounds received at Free- 
ling's or Freeland's Fort. He was said to be a son of Queen Cathe- 
rine of Seneca lake. There is no detailed account of this siirmish 
in any accessible book with which to compare Patterson's story. It 
is briefly alluded to in the biographies of Brant and Van Oampen, 
the only authorities at hand. 


and counter plots against the secret and wise foes who 
hid in the dark places of the wilderness, and came and 
went like the lightning. At the close of the war he 
was at liberty to give himself up to his roving and 
hunting propensities. He explored the region north 
of the West Branch, passed up through the Genesee 
country, spied out the land, and guided emigrantsj 
travellers and adventurers through the woods ; shoot- 
ing always wherever he went. He was the guide of 
Talleyrand in an excursion through the wild country, 
and at a later period piloted another French gentleman 
for many weeks around the wilderness. The latter 
was agent for a company of French emigrants, then 
residing at Philadelphia, who desired to make a settle- 
ment in some choice place on the outside of civilization. 
The Frenchman was a merry companion, and took to 
wild life with a good grace. With a negro servant he 
followed the hunter over a great extent of country, 
learning to swim and shoot, bathing in the lakes, sleep- 
ing on the ground, and learning backwoods science 
with much zeal. The emigrants, it is said, were sadly 
taken in by the land speculators who sold them at a 
great price, an armful of mountains not worth eighteen 
pence. . 

The hunter's home was for many years on the West 
Branch, near Northumberland. After the war, the 
region thereabout began to be overrun to a destructive 
rate with farmers, who laid waste the homes of the 
bear and the wolf with the most sickening barbarity. 
The forests were agajn and again decimated, till his 
old hunting grounds, disfigured with wheat fields, corn 


fields and potato fi.elds, presented a melancholy scene 
of devastation. The wild beasts quite lost heart, and 
began to retire to deeper solitudes, and the hunter de- 
termined to remove his household elsewhere, into a 
land as yet unmolested by plowmen and wood-choppers. 
In the year 1796, he boated his goods up the river to 
Painted Post, and kept for seven years the old tavern 
at Knoxville. At the end of that time, he moved up 
on the farm now occupied by one of his sons, two miles 
above the village of Painted Post, on the Tioga. It 
was quite a productive farm, yielding a crop of twenty- 
two wolves, nine panthers, bears a few, besides deer, 
shad and salmon uncounted. 

He was of medium stature, and squarely built. 
When in his prime, he possessed great strength and 
activity, and was famed as " a very smart man." 
He never encountered a man who got the better of him 
in a scuffle. His acquaintance with the famous inter- 
preter, Horatio Jones,* commenced in true frontier 
chivalry. A party of Indians, with a few white men, 
had gathered around a camp-fire near the Genesee, 
when for some reason, the savages began to insult and 
abuse an individual who was standing by. At length 
they threw him into the fire. The man scrambled out. 
The Indians again seized him and threw him into the 
fire. Patterson, who stood near, a perfect stranger to 
the company, sprang forward, saying to the tormentors 
" Don't burn the man alive !" and dragged him off the 

* A Pennsylvanian. Taken prisoner by the Indians when eigh- 
teeo'years of age ; he became, for his courage, strength and spirit, 
a favorite with his captors, and gained great influence over them. 


burning logs. Two or three of this genial party, 
displeased at the interruption of their diversions, im- 
mediately assaulted the hunter, but relinquished the 
honor of -whipping him to Jones, who stepped forward 
to settle the affair in person. Jones was also famed 
as a " smart man," being powerful, well skilled in 
athletic sports, and able to maintain his authority over 
the Indians by strength of arm. Before the fight had 
lasted many minutes, the savages standing around be- 
gan to whisper in their own language, " He has got 
his match this time," with perhaps some little satis- 
faction, for the Interpreter used a rod of iron, and 
sometimes banged his people about without ceremony. 
Jones was badly beaten, and kept his wigwam for 
several days. . At the trial of the Indians, Sundown 
and Curly^eye, at Bath, in 1825, (or about that time,) 
Jones, who was present as interpreter, laughed heartily 
over the matter, and sent his compliments to the old 

He was of course a crack shot, and carried a rifle 
which killed where vulgar guns smoked in vain. In 
one of his excursions with Capt. Williamson, he found 
a wild ox roving over the vast Genesee Flats, which, 
by his sagacity and swiftness, baffled all the efforts of 
the Indians to destroy him. This beast Was the last 
of several domestic oxen, which at times strayed to 
these marvellous meadows, and became wild as buffa- 
loes. They lived like the cattle of Eden in the luxu- 
rious pasture of the flats during the summer, and in 
the winter b^ thrusting their noses through the snow, 
ate the frozen grass below, and sustained life quite 


comfortably. AH had been slain but the one which 
was now grazing in that great field, and his faculties 
had been so sharpened by the relapse to barbarism, 
that it was quite impossible for eren the craft of the 
Indians to circumvent him. His scent was almost as 
keen as the elk's ; his eyesight was so quick and sus- 
picious, that before the red men could skulk within 
gunshot of him, he shook his great white horns and 
raced off through the high grass like an antelope. 
Capt. Williamson charged Patterson to lay low the 
head of this famous beast. The hunter crept along 
carefully while the ox was grazing, and when it raised 
its head and stared around the plain to discern an ene- 
my, lay flat in the grass. Either his patience or his 
skill was greater than that of the Indians, for he com- 
pletely out-generalled the wary animal, got within fair 
shooting range of it, fired and brought it down. The 
savages set up a great whooping, and crowded around 
the fallen ox as though it were a horned horse, or a 
sea-elephant. One of his noble horns, suitably carved 
and ornamented, afterwards hung at the hunter's side 
as a powder-horn. 

He preserved in his old age all the characteristics of 
the hunter, and always found his chief pleasures in 
the vigorous pursuits to which his youth had been de- 
voted. When attending court at Bath, as a juryman, 
he was in the habit of going out in the morning, before 
any body was stirring, to the little lake, east of the 
village, and shooting a deer before breakfast. It is to 
be regretted that the reminiscences we ^ave collected 
of this far-known character, and recorded in this and 


in succeeding chapters of this volume, are so scanty. 
More of the thousand tales, which he told of the " old 
times "to hoys and neighbors and travellers, might 
doubtless be gathered even yet; but had they been taken 
from his own lips in his lifetime, they would have formed 
a volume of reminiscence and adventure of rare in- 
terest. There would have been, besides, a gain in ac- 
curacy ; for what we have collected were told twenty 
or thirty years ago to youngsters. Whatever was told 
by the old hunter himself was to be relied upon, for 
he was carefully and strictly truthful. 











In the summer of 1779, a numerous party of Tories 
and Indians, under the command of a Loyalist named 
McDonald and Hiakatoo, a renowned Seneca war-chief, 
returned to the north by way of Pine creek, the Tioga, 
and the Conhocton, from an incursion among the set- 
tlements on the west branch of the Susquehanna. They 
had suffered a severe loss in a conflict with the border- 
ers, and brought with them many wounded. Their 
march was also encumbered by many prisoners, men, 
women and children, taken at Freeling'g Fort. A 
party of rangers followed them a few days, journeying 
into the wilderness, and found at their abandoned en- 
campment abundantproof of the manfulness with which 


the knives and rifles of the frontier had been used in 
repelling its foes, in the heaps of bark and roots which 
had been pounded or steeped ip preparing draughts 
and . dressings for the wounded warriors. Under the 
elms of the confluence of the Tioga and Conhocton, 
Captain Montour7 a half-breed, a fine young chief, a 
gallant warrior and a favorite with his tribe, died of 
his wounds. He was a son of the famous Queen Cath- 
arine. His comrades buried him by the river side, 
and planted above his graye a post on which was painted 
various symbols and rude devices. This monument 
was known throughoutthe Genesee Forest as the Paint- 
ed Post. , It was a landmark well known to all the 
Six Nations, and was often visited by their braves and 

* This account of tli& origin of the Painted Post was given to Ben- 
jamin Patterson, the Hunter, by a man named Taggart, who was 
carried to Fort ll'iagara a prisoner by McDonald's party, and was a 
■witness of th« "burial of Captain Montour, or at least was in the en- 
c&mpoient at the mouth of -the Tioga' at the time of lus ddatb. Col. 
Harper, of Harperafield, the well known officer of the frontier militia 
of New York in tte Eevolution, informed Judge Knox, of Knoxville 
in this county, that the Painted Post was .erected over the grave of a 
chief who was wounded at the battle of the Hog-back, and brought 
in a canoe to the head of the Chemung, where he died At all events 
■• it was well understood by the early settlers, that this monument 
was erected in memory of some distinguished Tvarrior who had been 
wounded in one of the border battles of the Revolution, and after- 
wards died at this plaice. The post stood for many years after the 
settlement of the cotmty, and the story goes that it rotted down at 
the butt, and was preserved in the bar-room of a tavern till about 
the year 1810, and then disappeai'gd unaccountably. It is- also said 
to have been swept away in a freshet. 


At the Painted Post, the first habitation of civilized 
man erected in Steuben county, was built by William 
Harris, an Indian Trader. Harris was a Pennsylva- 
nian, and not long after the close of the RevolutionaTy 
war pushed up the Chemung with a cargo of Indian 
goods, to open a traflSc with the hunting parties of the 
Six Nations, which resorted at certain seasons to the 
northwestern branches of the Susquehanna. A canoe or 
a pack-horse sufficed at that time to transport the 
yearly merchandise of the citizens of our county. Sixty- 
five years afterwards, an armada of canal boats and a 
caravan of cars . hardly performed this labor. The 
precise date of Harris's arrival is unknown. Judge 
Baker, late of Pleasant Valley, found the trader estab- 
lished at his post in the spring of ITST. On Christ- 
mas night following, he went down to the Painted Post, 
and finding the cabin burned and the trader missing, 
he inferred that the latter had perhaps been killed by 
his customers — a disaster by no means unlikely to be- 
fall a merchant in a region where the position of debtor 
was much more pleasant and independent than that oi 
creditor, especially if the creditor had the misfortune 
to be white and civilized. Harris, however, had met 
with no calamity. On the contrary, his intarcourse 
with the Indians was of a very friendly and confiden- 
tial character. They rendered him much valuable 
assistance in setting up business, not of course by en- 
dorsing his paper, or advancjng funds on personal se- 
curity; but by helping him to erect his warehouse, and 
patronising him in the handsomest manner afterwards. 
They even carried the logs out of which the cabin was 


built, on their shoulders, to the proposed site of the 
edifice, which iras after all, to, speak with strict ety- 
mology, a species of endorsement. 

The savages manifested much, zeal in promoting the 
establishment of a trading post at the head of the Che- 
mung, and indeed it was a matter of as much conse- 
quence at that time as the building of a Railroad De- 
pot is in modern days. Before that, the citizens of 
the county were obliged to go to Tioga Point, nearly 
fifty miles below, to buy their gunpowder, liquors, 
knives, bells, brads, and jews-harps ; and the pro- 
posal of Harris to erect a bazaar at the Painted Post, 
for the sale of these articles, was as vital concern to 
the interests of the county as at the present day an 
offer: of the government to establish a university in 
Tyrone or an observatory in Troupsburg would be. It 
was a great day for the county when the trader's 
cabin was finishied, and his wares unpacked. Then 
the sach&m might buy scalping knives and hatchets on 
the bank of his own river ; the ladies of the wilderness 
could go -shopping without paddling their canoes to 
the Susquehanna, and the terrible warriors of the Six 
Nations, as they sat of an evening under, their own elm 
trees, smoking pipes bought at the "People's Store," 
hard by, forgot their cunning ; when some renowned 
Captain Shiverscull, a grim and truculent giant, steeped 
to his elbows in the blood of farmers, and scarred with 
bullets and tomahawks like a target, sat upon a log, 
soothing his savage breast with the melodies of a jews- 
harp, or winding around that bloody finger, which h^ 
so often been.tiwisted in the flaxen scalp-locks of Penn- 


sylvanian children, a string of beads, bought for his 
own ugly little cub, that lay asleep in the wigwam of 

At the time of Judge Baker's visit, Harris was only 
temporarily absent. He afterwards returned to Painted 
Post with his son, and lived there a few years, when 
he again removed to Pennsylvania. One or two others 
are sometimes pointed out as the first settlers of the 
county ; but evidence, which must be regarded as re- 
liable and decisive, proves that the first civilized resi- 
dent was William Harris. It is possible, indeed, that 
before his advent some straggling adventurer may have 
wandered hither, built him a lodge, perhaps planted 
corn on the open flats, and afterwards strayed to parts 
unknown, leaving no trace of his existence. There 
have always been, on the frontiers, eccentric geniuses, 
to whom such a line of conduct was no strange thing. 
There have always been, on the frontiers, a few vaga- 
bonds, who should have been born wolves, who forsake 
civilized homes and join the Indians, and are only hin- 
dered from living with the bears in their hollow trees, 
by the refusal of these sensible monsters to fraternize 
with such loafers. Hermits, hunters and vagabonds 
find their way into strange places, and it is by no 
means impossible that some pleasant island or open 
flat may have harbored one of these outlaws before 
any other wanderer, laying claim to civilization, smote 
our forests with the all- conquering axe. No such Ro- 
binson Crusoe, however, presents himself as a candi- 
date for historical honors, and it i?, upon the whole, im- 
probable that any such preceded the trader, or if he 


did, that he enjoyed his solitude a great while unmo- 
lested. The " Man Friday " he would have been like- 
ly to catch here would most prohably have caught him, 
and whisked his scalp oflf without winking. 

Harris was a trader, and did not cultivate the soil. 
Frederick Calkins, a Vermonter, was the first farmer 
of Steuben. He made his settlement near the head of 
the Chimney Narrows, in 1788. After living there 
alone for a time, he returned to the east for his family. 
During this absence, Phelps and Gorham's surveyors 
made head-quarters at Painted Post, which accounts 
for the omission of his name in Judge Porter's narra- 
tive, quoted in the last chapter. George Goodhue fol- 
lowed Mr. Calkins in a year or two. 

Township number two in the second range, was pur- 
chased of Phelps and Gorham, in 1790, by six pro- 
prietors, Frederick Calkins, Justus Wolcott, of East- 
ern New York, Ephraim Patterson, of Connecticut, 
Silas Wood, Caleb Gardener and Peleg Gorton. The 
price paid for the township was eight cents per acre. 

The old town of Painted Post comprised the present 
towns of Hornby, Campbell, Erwin, Painted Post, Ca- 
ton and Lindley. The earliest settlers along the Che- 
mung and Conhocton were the six proprietors (except- 
ing Silas Wood), Eli and Eldad Mead, (1790,) David 
and Jonathan Cook, of New Jersey, (1790,) Judge 
Knox, of Eastern New York, (1793,) Benjamin Eaton, 
Elias Williams, Henry McCormick, Hezekiah Thur- 
ber, Bradford Eggleston, Samuel Colegrove, John Ber- 
ry and others. John Winters, a famous hunter, set- 


tied there at an early day, and families named Rowan, 
Waters, Van Wye, Turner, McCullick, &c. 

Mr. Eli Mead was the first Supervisor of the town, 
and went on foot to Canandaigua, to attend the meet- 
ing of the Board of Supervisors of Ontario county. 

Gen. MeClure, speaking of the early settlers of that 
neighborhood, mentions " a man by the name of Ful- 
ler, who kept the old Painted Post Hotel. That an- 
cient house of entertainment, or tavern .(as such were 
-then called) was composed of round logs, one story 
high, and if I mistake not was divided into two apart- 
ments. This house was well patronized by its neigh- 
bors as by travellers from afar. All necessarily stop- 
ped here for refreshment, as well for themselves as for 
their horses. Fuller, the landlord, was a good natured, 
slow and easy kind of a man, but his better half, Nel- 
ly, was a thorough -going, smart, good-looking woman, 
and was much admired by gentlemen generally. To 
the wearied traveller, nothing can be more agreeable 
than a pleasant, obliging.landlady. There were other 
respectable families settled at Painted Post, not many- 
years after, (1794,) Thomas McBurney, Esq., Capt. 
Samuel Erwin, Frank and Arthur, his brothers, Capt. 
Howell Bull, John E. Evans, an Englishman, and 

A mill was built on the Post Creek, near the Nar- 
rows, by Mr. Payne and Col. Henderson, as early as 
1793 or 1794. , Thig mill is described by the few who 
remember it, as^iaving been mainly built of logs " so 
that you could drive a pig through it.'' 

The first establishment, for the sale of goods to ci- 


vilized men, was kept by Benjamin Eaton. He went 
for his first stock to Wattles' Ferry (now Unadilla 
village) in a canoe, with a man and a boy, (Mr. Samuel 
Cook, of Campbelltown.) At that place he purchased 
another canoe, loaded his fleet with goods and returned 
to Painted Post. 

Col. Arthur Erwin, the ancestor of a large family 
bearing his name, emigrated from Ireland before the 
Revolution. During the war he served in the Ameri- 
can army. He resided in Bucks County, Pennsyl- 
vania, and became the proprietor of a large laiided es- 
tate. He was shot dead through the window of a log 
house at Tioga Point, in 1Y92, by an ejected squatter,, 
who escaped. 

Hon. William Steele, a well known and highly re- 
spected citizen of Painted Post, removed from New 
Jersey in 1819. He served in the war of the Revolu- 
tion, and was severely wounded and made prisoner at 
sea in 1780. In 1785 he was appointed clerk in the 
old Board of Treasury, and in 1794 he commanded a 
troop of horse and aided in suppressing the insurrection 
near Pittsburgh. He died in 1851. {Obituary notice 
in Corning Journal.) 


A party of boatmen attached to General Sullivan's 
army in the invasion of the Genesee in 1779, while 
awaiting in the Chemung River the return of their 
commander and his column from the north, pushed up 


the river as far as the Painted Post, out of curiosity to 
know how the land lay on the northwestern branches 
of the Susquehanna. Among the soldiers of Sullivan 
was Uriah Stephens, Jr., aPennsylvanian. He believ- 
ing, from the repott of the boatmen, that some feirtile 
flat might lie among those northern hills.where frcm^ 
tiersmen, not bountifully provided for in the lower val- 
leys, might jfound settlements and thrive for a time on 
venison and hominy, determined after the waV to se§k 
such a pkce and to emigrate thither. 

Mr. Stephens belonged to a numerous family of New 
England descent, which had settled at an early day in 
the Wyoming region,; and they, with other families 
which afterwards joined them in the settlement of the 
Upper Ganisteo, suffered in the attack of the Indians 
and Tories on that ill-fated district in 1T78. One of 
the oldest surviving members of the family was carried 
in the arms of a neighbor (James Hadley, alsoa settler 
of Ganisteo,) from the farm to the fort, and though al- 
most an infant at the time retains distinctly the impres- 
sion made by the night alarm, the terror, the flight 
and the confusion. The wife of Col. John Stephens, 
a late well-known citizen, was once captured by a party 
of savages, and in the skirmish and rescue which ensued 
upon the pursuit of her captors by the border-men 
(one account says at the battle of the Hog-back) Ttas 
wounded by a rifle ball fired by one of her friends. 
The Stephens', after several removals from Wysox, 
Queen Esther's Flats, and other localities, were living, 
in the fourth or fifth year after the close of the Revo- 
lutionary War, at, Newtown- 


Several families, relatives and acquaintance, were 
found willing to engage in the enterprise of further 
emigration. In 1788, Solomon Bennet, Capt. John 
Jameson, Uriah Stephens, and Richard Crosby, started 
upon an exploration. Passing up the Chemung to 
Painted Post, they found ther6 a few cabins, a half a 
dozen settlers, and Saxton and Porter, the surveyors 
of Phelps and Gorham. Penetrating further into the 
north by way of the Conhocton Valley, they fijund no 
laiids which Satisfied their expectations. On their re- 
turn they struck across the hills from the uppier waters 
of the Conhdcton, and after toiling through the dense 
forests which crowded the shattered region to the west- 
ward of that river, they came suddenly upon the brink 
of a deep and fine valley through which the Canisteo 
rambled, in a crooked channel marked by the elms and 
willows which overhung it. The prospect was singu- 
larly beautiful. The huge barriers of the valley laden 
with that noble timber which raftsmen for half a cen- 
tury have been floating through the cataracts of the 
■Susquehanna, ran in precipitous parallels at a generous 
distance for several miles and then closing in, granted 
the river for its passage but a narrow gorge made dark 
by hemlocks. A heavy forest covered the floor of the 
valley. Groves of gigantic pine stood with their deep 
green tops in the midst of the maples, the elms, and 
the white sycamores. So even was the surface of the 
vale, so abrupt and darkly-shaded the ranges that en- 
closed it, that the explorers, looking down upon the 
tr^e tops that covered the ground from hill to hill, 
seemed to be standing abcive a lake of timber. At. the 


lower part of the valley there was an open flat, of seve- 
ral hundred acres, overgrown with wild grass so high 
that a horse and rider could pass through the meadow 
almost unseen. It was like a little prairie, heautiful 
indeed, but strangely out of place in that rugged re- 
gion, — as if some great Indian prophet had stolen a 
choice fragment from the hunting grounds of the Mis- 
souri and hidden it in the midst of mountains bristling 
with gloomy hemlocks. 

The explorers decided to purchase the two townships 
on the river, which included the open flats. Eight 
other men joined in the purchase : Col. Arthur Urwin, 
Joel Thomas, Uriah Stephens, (father of Uriah Ste- 
phens, Jr.,) John Stephens, his son, William Wine- 
coop, James Hadley, Elisha Brown and Christian 

In the summer of 1789, a company of men were sent 
to the flats, who cut and stacked a sufficient quantity 
of wild grass to winter the cattle that were to be 
driven on. In the autumn of the same year, Uriah 
Stephens, the elder, and Richard Crosby, with por- 
tions of their families, started from Newtown to begin 
the proposed settlement. The provisions, baggage and 
families were carried up in seven-ton boats, while four 
sons of Mr. Stephens, Elias, Elijah, Benjamin and 
William, drove along the shore the cattle belonging to 
the two families in the boats, and to four other families 
which were to join them in the spring. From the mouth 
of the Canisteo to the upper flats, the movement was 
tedious and toilsome. Frequent rifts were to be as- 
cended, and the channel was often to be cleared of ob- 


structions, the trunks of trees and dams of drift-wood. 
On one day, they inade but six miles. However, as 
the destinies, after forty centuries of hesitation, had 
decided that Upper Canisteo must be ciyilized, ail 
obstacles were steadily surmounted. At the rifts, 
where the nose of the unwieldy boat, plowing under 
the water, at last wheeled about in spite of setting 
poles and swearing, and went down again to the foot of 
the rapids, every human thing that could pull, went 
on shore, took hold of a long rope, and hauled the 
barge up by main force. Thus for some three days 
the pioneers of Ca.nisteo toiled up the hostile current, 
probably not without some little noise, as the shouting 
of boatmen, or the bawlingof the youths on shore at 
the straggling cattle, which sometimes got entangled 
in the willow thickets by the little river, sometimes 
scrambled up the hill sides, sometimes stopped, shak- 
ing their horns in aifright, when the wolf or fox bounded 
across the trail, or came racing back in paroxysms of 
terror, making the gorge to resound with strange bel- 
lowinga, when they suddenly met the ugly and growling 
bear, sitting like a foot-pad upon his haunches in the 
middle of the path, and so near to their unsuspecting 
nostrils, that he might cuff the face of the. forward bul- 
lock with his paw, before , the startled cattle became 
aware that they had ventured into the lurking-place of 
the' shaggy brigand. 

At length the persevering voyagers landed on the 
upper flats. The astonished cattle found themselves 
almost smothered in the herbage of the meadows. The 
first thing to be devised was, of course, a habitation. 

7 ; 


The hark hut of the savage was the only structure 
■which the ■wilderness had yet heheld, and was un- 
doubtedly a sufficient house for cannibals or philoso- 
phers ; hut the pioneers, who were neither the former 
nor the latter, went straightway into the woods, cut 
down certain trees, and built a luxurious castle of logs, 
26 feet long by 24 wide. There was but one room be- 
low. Four fire-places were excavated in' the four 
corners, and they who know what caverns fireplaces 
were in old times, can imagine the brilliant appearance 
(of this Canisteo Castle at night, through the winter, 
^^u6n the blaze of burning logs in all the furnaces 
filled the cabin with light, and glimmering through the 
crevices, was seen by the Indian as he walked by on 
the crackling crast of the snow toward his lodge in the 
woods. In the following spring a family was en- 
camped before each of the fire-places, and occupied 
each its own territory with as much good humour as 
if divided from the others by stone walls and gates of 

The two families passed here the first winter very 
comfortably. In the spring of 1790 they were joined 
by Solomon Bennet, Uriah Stephens, Jr., and Colonel 
John Stephens his brother, with their families.' As 
soon as the weather permitted, they set about prepar- 
ing the ground for seed. Although the flafwas free 
from timber, this was no trifling task. The roots of 
the gigantic wild grass, braided a,nd tangled together 
below the surface, protected the earth against the plow 
with a net so tight and stout, that ordinary means of 
breaking the soil failed entirely. Four yoke of oxen 


forced the coulter through this well-woven netting, and 
the snapping and tearing of the roots as they gave way 
before the strength of eight healthy beeves was heard 
■ to a considerable distance, like the ripping of a mat. 
The settlers never learned the origin of these mea- 
dows. " Captain John the Indian" said thiit he knew 
nothing of their origin; they were cleared "before 
the time of his people." After the frosts, when the 
herbage had become dry and crisp, the grass was set 
on fire, and a Very pretty miniature of a prairie-on-fire 
it made. The flames flashed over the flats almost as 
over a floor strewn with gunpowder., A swift horse 
could not keep before them. The wild grass, by suc- 
cessive mowings and burning, became less rank and 
more nutritious. In time it gradually changed to 
" tame grass," and at the present day there are mea- 
dows on the Ganisteo which have never been broken 
by the plow. 

After the sowing of Spring wheat and the planting 
of the corn, the settlers constructed a log fence on a 
scale as magnificent, considering their numbers, as 
that of the Chinese wall. This ponderous battlement 
enclosed nearly four hundred acres of land. The flats 
were divided among the proprietors. From the pre- 
sent site of Bennetsville down to the next township, a 
distance of about six miles, twelve lots were laid out 
from hill to hiU across the valley, and assigned by lot 
to the several proprietors. The lot upon which the 
first house was built is known as the " Bennet" or 
" Pumpelly farm." That part of it upon which the 
house stood is upon the farm of Mr. Jacob Doty. In 


the course of the same spring (1790) Jedediah Ste- 
phens, John Redford, and Andrew Bennet settled in 
the neighborhood. Jedediah Stephens, afterwards well 
known to the citizens of the county, was a faithful and 
respected preacher of the Baptist denomination. His 
house Was for many years the resort of missionaries 
and religious travellers who passed through the valley, 
and indeed was said to be one of the few places where 
pilgrims of a serious disposition, and not inclined to 
join the boisterous company of the neighborhood, could 
find lodgings entirely to their satisfaction. 

The harvest abundantly attested the fertility of the 
valley. Seventy or seventy-five bushels of corn were 
yielded to the acre. Indeed, the timbered flats have 
been known to yield seventy-five bushels of corn, 
planted with the hoe after logging. They sent their 
grain in canoes to Shepherd's Mill, on the Susquehan- 
na, a short distance above Tioga Point, and nearly one 
hundred miles distant from Canisteo. 

A few random notes of the settlement of this neigh- 
borhood may be added. Solomon Bennet was one of 
its leading spirits. He was a hunter of renown, and 
bequeathed his skill and good fortune to his sons, who 
became well known citizens of the county, and were 
famous for readiness with the knife and rifle, and for 
" perhaps some shallow spirit of judgment" (or better) 
touching traps. Mr. Bennet built, in 1793, the first 
grist mill on the Canisteo. It stood (and also a saw- 
mill we are told) on Bennet's creek, about half a mile 
from its mouth. It stood but a year or two when it 
was, unfortunately, burned to the ground. This mill 


was resorted to sometimes by the citizens of Bath. 
Early settlers remember how the pioneer boys came 
over the hills, through the unbroken woods, with their 
ox-drays, and retain vividly the image of a distin- 
.guished settler who came over from the Pine Plains 
with " his little brown mare and a sKeepskin to ride 
upon" after a bag of corn-meal to keep off starvation. 
Flour was sometimes sent by canoes down the Canis- 
teo and up the Conhocton. After the burning of the 
mill, Tthe settlers were again compelled to send their 
grain in canoes to Shepherd's Mill. Mr. Bennet went 
to New York to purchase machinery for a new mill, 
but became engaged in other business, and failed to 
minister to the urgent necessity of his neighbors. 
George Hornell (afterwards well known as Judge Hor- 
nell) settled in Canisteo in 1798. He was induced to 
build a mill on the site now occupied by the present 
Hornellsville Mills. So impatient were the settlers for 
the erection of the building, that they turned out and 
prepared the timber for it voluntarily. 

The first goods were sold by Solomon Bennet. Judge 
Hornell and William Dunn visited the neighborhood 
at an early day for trade with the Indians. James 
McBurney, of Ireland, first came to Canisteo as a 
pedler. He bought Great Lot, No. 12, in the lower 
township of Bennet, and other lands ; went to Ireland, 
and upon his return settled some of his countrymen 
on his lands. 

Qhristopher Hulburt and. Nathaniel Gary settled in 
1795 at Arkport. The former ran, in 1 800 or about 
that time, the first ark laden with wheat that- descend- 


-ed the Canisteo, and about the same time John Morrison 
ran the first raft. The honor of piloting the first craft 
of the kind out of the Canisteo, however, is also claimed 
for Benjamin-Patterson. 

Dr. Nathan Hallett, Jeremiah Baker, Daniel Purdy, 
Oliver Harding, Thomas Butler, J. Russelman, the 
Upsons, the Stearns, and the Dykes also were among 
the earliest settlers on the upper Canisteo. 

The first taverns were kept in the year 180fl, or 
about that time, by Judge Hornell, at his mills,iand by 
Jedediah Stephens below Bennet's Creek. The first 
house in Hornellsville stood upon the site of Mr Hugh 
Magee's Hotel. 

Under the old organization of the County of Ontario, 
the settlement of Canisteo was in the town of William- 
son, which comprised a large part of what is now 
Western Steuben County, Allegany County, and how 
much more we know not. Jedediah Stephens was the 
first Supervisor of that town, and attended the meeting 
of the Board at Canandaigua. Town meeting was 
held at the house of Uriah Stephens, and seven votes 
were cast. 

Solomon Bennet is said by the settlers of Canisteo 
to have been the Captain. John Stephens, the lieu- 
tenant, and Richard Crosby the ensign of the first 
military company organized in Steuben County. 

A large proportion of the first settlers of Canisteo 
were from Pennsylvania, and had within them a goodly 
infusion of that boisterous spirit and love of rough 
play for which the free and manly sons of the back- 
woods are everywhere famous. On the Susquehannh 


frontier, before the Revolution, had arisen an athletic 
scuffling wrestling race, lovers of hard blows, sharp- 
shooters and runners, who delighted' in nothing more 
than in those ancient sports by which the backs and 
limbs of all stout-hearted youth have been tested since 
the days of Hercules. The easing of bears, the 
drinking of grog, the devouring of hominy, venison, 
and all the invigorating diet of the frontiers ; the 
hewing down of forests, the paddling of canoes, 
the fighting of savages, all combined to form a gene- 
ration of yeomen and foresters, daring, rude and 
free. Canisteo was a sprout from this stout stock, 
and on the generous river-flats flourished with amazing 
vigor. : 

Life there was decidedly Olympic. The old Pyth- 
ian games were revived with an energy that would 
have almost put a soul into the bones of Pindar ; and 
although many of the details of those classic festivals 
upon which the schoolmasters dwell with especial de- 
light were wanting — the odes, the crowns of oak, the 
music, and so on — nevertheless, one cannot help think- 
ing that for the primitive boxers and sportsmen of 
the old school, men who wore lions' hides and 
carried clubs, the horse-play of Canisteo would have 
been quite as entertaining as the flutes and dog- 
gerel of Delphi. Every thing that could eat, 
drink and wrestle, was welcome ; Turk or Tuscarora, 
Anak, or Anthropophagus, Blue Beard or Blunder- 
bore. A " back-hold" witl|(a Ghoul would not have 
been declined, nor a drinking match with a Berserkir. 
Since the Centaurs never has there been better speci- 
men of a " half -horse" tribe. To many of the settlers 


in other ])arts of the county who emigrated from the 
decorous civilization of the east and sou th^ these bois- 
terous foresters were objects of astonishment. When 
" Canisteer" went abroad, the public soon found it 
out. On the Conhocton they were known to some as 
the Six-J^ations, aad to the amusement and wonder 
of young Europeans, would sometimes visit at Bath, 
being of a social disposition, and sit all day, " sing- 
ing, telling stories and drinking grog, and never get 
drunk nayther." To the staid and devout they were 
ArabSj^cannibals. Intercourse between the scattered 
settlements of the county was of course limited mainly 
to visits of necessity ; but rumor took the fair fame of 
Canisteo in hand, and gave the settlement a notoriety 
through all the land, which few " rising villages" even 
of the present day enjoy. It was pretty well under- 
stood over all the country that beyond the mountains 
of Steuben, in the midst of the most rugged district 
of the wilderness, lay a corn-growing valley which had 
been taken possession of by some vociferous tribe, 
whether of Mamelukes or Tartars no one could pre- 
cisely say ; whose whooping and obstreperous laughter 
was heard far and wide, surprising the solitudes. 

The " Romans of the West" were not long in find- 
ing out these cousins, and many a rare riot they had 
with them. The uproars of these festivals beggar 
description. The valley seemed a den of maniacs. 
The savages came down four or five times in each year 
from Squakie Hill for ^se and foot-racing, and to 
play all manner of rude sports. In wrestling, or 
in " rough-and-tumble" they were not matches for the 


settlers, manj of whom were proficients in the Susque- 
hanna sciences, and had been regularly trained in all 
the wisdom of the ancients. The Indians were power- 
ful of frame and of good stature. The settlers agree 
that " they were quick as cats, but the poor critters 
had no system." When fairly grappled, the Indians 
generally came off second best. They were slippery 
and " limber like snakes," oiling themselves freely, 
and were so adroit in squirming out of the clinch of 
the farmers, that it was by no means the most trifling 
part of the contest to keep the red antagonist in the 

In these wrestling matches, Elias Stephens was the 
champion. He was called the " smartest Stephens on 
the river," and was in addition claimed by his friends 
as the " smartest" man in the country at large. No 
Indian in the Six Nations could lay him on his back. 
A powerful young chief was once brought by his tribe 
from Tonewanta to test the strength of the Canisteo 
Champion. He had been carefully trained and exer- 
cised, and after "sleeping in oiled blankets" for sev- 
eral nights, was brought into the ring. Stephens grap- 
pled with him. At the first round the chief was hurled 
to the ground with a thigh-bone broken. His backers 
were very angry, and, drawing their knives, threatened 
to kill the victor. He and his friend Daniel Upson, 
took each a sled-stake and standing back to back de- 
fied them. The matter was finally made up, and the 
unlucky chief was borne awapin a deer-skin, stretched 
between two poles.* In addition to this, Stephens 
* Stephens was trained by a ■wrestler of some note living on the 


once maintained . the credit of the Cani-steo by signally 
discomfiting a famous wrestler from the Hog-back. 

Foot races, long and short, for rods or miles, were ia.- 
vorite diversion?. In these the Indians met with better 
success than in wrestling ; but even in racing they did 
not maintain the credit, of their nation to their entire 
satisfaction,i^for there was now and then along- winded 
youth among the settlers who beat the barbarians at 
their own game. So for horse-raeipg,, this ancient and 
heroic pastime was carried on with a zeal that would 
shame Newmarket. The Indians came down on these 
occasions with all their households, women, children, 
dogs and horses. The settlers found no occasion to 
complain of their savage guests. They conducted 
themselves with civility, generally, and even formed 
in some instances, warm friendships with their hosts. 

Infant Canisteo of course followed in the footsteps 
of senior Canisteo. When fathers and big brothers 

Chemung named McCormick, who afterward was for many years a 
citizen of this county. McCormick was a British soldier, and reputed 
to be the most powerful and expert pugilist in the army. He de- 
serted during the Revolutionary war and went with Arnold to Que- 
bec. After the failure of the desperate assault on that town, Mc- 
Cormick, with a party of American solfiera, were standing on the ice 
of the St. Lawrence when the British approached to make them 
prisoners. Knowing that the deserter would be hanged, if taken, 
his comrades gathered around him in a huddle, pretending- to pre- 
pare resistance. The British parlied. In the mean time McCormick 
pulled off his shoes, for " the ice was as smooth as a bottle," and ran. 
A shower of bullets rattled |kind him, ,but h^ was so fortunate as 
to escape unhurt. Captain Sffiis Wheeler, late of the town of Whee- 
ler, was in that crdwd, and gives McCormick the credit of extraor- 
dinary briskness. ,, 


found delight in scuffling with bai'bariahs, and in rac- 
ing -with Indian ponies, it would have been strange if 
infant Canisteo had taken of its own aecord to Belles 
Lettres, and Arithmetic. The strange boy found him- 
self in a den of young bears. He was promptly re- 
quired to fight, and after such an introduction to the 
delights of the valley, was admitted to freedom of trap 
and fishery in all the streams and forests of the com- 
monwealth. And for infant Canisteo, considering 
that passion for wild life which plays the mischief 
with boys everywere, even in the very ovens of refine- 
ment, a more congenial region could not have been 
found. The rivers and brooks alive with fish, the hills 
stocked with d«er, the groves populous with squirrels, 
the partridges drumming in the bushes, the raccoons 
scrambling in the tree-tops, removed every temptation 
to run away in search of a solitary island and a man 
Friday ; while their little ill-tempered Iroquois play- 
fellows, with their arrow-practice,, their ooeasiehal skir- 
mishes, and their mimic war-paths, satisfied those 
desires to escape from school to the Rocky Mountains 
and the society of grizzly bears and Camanches, which 
so often turn the heads of youngsters nurtured in the 
politest of academies. 

This backwoods mode of education, though by no 
means so exquisite as our modern systems, has proved 
nevertheless quite efficient for practical purposes. The 
boys who in early times played wi'th the heathen and 
persecuted raccoons, instea^|^ learning their gram- 
mars have, astonishing to see, become neither pagans 
nor idiots. Some havie become farmers, some lumber- 


men, some supervisors, and some justices of the peace ; 
and whether in the field or in the saw-mill, whether in 
the county's august parliament, or in the chair of the 
magistrate, the duties of all those stations seem to 
have been performed substantiallj as well as needs be. 
For the Robin Hoods of Canisteo could plow, mow, 
and fell trees, if need be, as well as the best, and did 
not hold laziness in higher respect than did the other 
pioneers of the county. 

The Indians made their appearance shortly after 
the landing of the settlers— the Canisteo Valley having 
long been a favorite hunting field. The men of Wyom- 
ing found among them many of their old antagonists. 
Tories never were forgiven, but the proffered friend- 
ship of the Indians was accepted : old enmities were 
forgotten, and the settlers and savages lived together 
on the most amicable terms. Shortly after their arri- 
val, an old Indian, afterwards well known as " Captain 
John," made his appearance, and on seeing the elder 
Stephens, went into a violent fit of merriment. Lan- 
guage failed to express the cause of his amusement, which 
seemed to be some absurd reminiscence suddenly sug- 
gested by the sight of the settler, and the old " Roman" 
resorted to pantomime. He imitated the gestures of 
a man smoking — putting his hand to his mouth to with- 
draw an imaginary pipe, then turning up his mouth 
and blowing an imaginary cloud of smoke, then stoop- 
ing to tie an imaginary shoe, then taking an imaginary 
boy in his arms and n|ping away, and returning with 
violent peals of laughter. One of the sons of Mr. 
Stephens, a hot and athletic youth, supposing that the 


Indian was " making fun" of his father, snatched up 
a pounder to knock him on the head. Captain John 
•was driven from the ideal to the real, and made good 
his retreat. He afterwards became a fast friend of the 
settlers, and explained the cause of his merriment. 

When Mr. Stephens lived near Wyoming, he was 
one day going from his farm to the fort, with two oxen 
and a horse, which were attached to some kind of 
vehicle. His boy, Phineas, was riding on the horse. 
Mr. Stephens was an inveterate smoker, and walked 
by^the side of the oxen, puflSng after the manner imi- 
tated by Captain John. While passing through the 
woods near a fork of the roads, his shoe stuck in the 
mud, and was drawn off his foot. Just as he stooped 
to recover it, a rifle was fired from the bushes, which 
killed the nigh ox, by the side of which he had been 
walking. The alarm of " Indians f" was sounded 
from the other branch of the road, where some of. his 
neighbors were killed. Mr. Stephens started and ran, 
but his boy crying out, " Don't leave me, father !" he 
returned and took him in his arms, and fled to the 
fort. The ambushed rifleman was none other than 
Captain John, and he, recognizing the smoker fifteen 
years after the adventure, was quite overpowered at 
the recollection of the joke. 

Another meeting of two old enemies took place on 
the banks of the Canisteo not long afterwards. Major 
Moses Van Campen, (late of Dansville, Livingston 
County,) well known to the Sfx' Nations as a potrerfiil, 
daring and sagacious ranger in the border wars of 
Pennsylvania, moved up the river with a colony des- 


tined for Allegany County, and offered to land at 
the settlement on Canisteo Flats. Van Campen was 
especially obnoxious to the Indians for the part he had 
taken as a leader of a bold and destructive attack, 
made in the night, by himself and two others, prisoners, 
(Pence and Pike by name,) upon the party by which 
they had been captured in an incursion against the 
settlements, in which Van Campen's father and young 
brother had been killed before his own eyes. There 
were ten Indians in the party. One evening, while 
encamped at Wyalusing Flats, on their way to Niagara,. 
Van Campen resolved to pu t in exec ution a long medi- 
tated plan of escape. He managed to conceal under 
his foot a knife which had been dropped by an Indian, 
and with this, at midnight, the prisoners cut them- 
selves loose. They stole the guns from their sleeping 
enemies, and placed them against a tree. Pike's heart 
failed him, and he laid down just as the two allotted 
to him for execution awoke and were arising. Van 
Camping, seeing that " their heads were turned up 
fair," killed them with a tomahawk, and three besides. 
Pence killed four with the guns. Van Campen struck 
his hatchet into the neck of the only remaining Indian, 
a chief named Mohawk, who turned and grappled with 
him. A desperate and doubtful struggle followed, one 
being sometimes uppermost and sometimes the other. 
Van Campen was half blinded by the blood of his 
wounded antagonist, who felt, as often as he got oppor- 
tunity, for the knife in hw belt. This would have soon 
settled the contest, and Van Campen finally stuck his 


toes into the Indian's belt and hoisted him oflf. The 
latter bounded into the ■woods and escaped. 

The savages recognized Van Campen on his arrival 
at Canisteo as " the man that lent John Mohawk the 
hatchet." Captain Mohawk himself was there, and 
had a special cause of grievance to exhibit in a neck 
set slightly awry from the blow of the tomahawk. The 
settlers rallied for the defence of Van Campen. There 
was every prospect of a bloody fight ; but after much 
wrangling it was agreed that the two parties should 
divide while Van Campen and Mohawk advanced be- 
tween them to hold a " talk." This was done, and in 
a conference of considerable length between the two 
old antagonists, the causes of difficulty were discussed, 
and it was finally decided that each was doing his duty 
then, but that now war being ended, they ought to for- 
get past injuries. Mohawk ofiered his hand. The 
threatened fight became a feast. A keg of spirits waa 
broken and the hills rang with riot^ 

The Indians sometimes entertained the men of Ca- 
nisteo with a display of their military circumstance, 
and marched forth on the flats, to the number of three 
hundred warriors, in full costume, to dance the grand 
war-dance. They made a fire about eight rods long 

* Mohawk was a noble warrior, — a Eoman indeed. See Stone's 
Life of. Brant (somewhere in the second yolame) for an incident 
which occurred in the captivity of the gallant Capt. Alexander Har- 
per. The " single voice " which responded with " the death yell " 
was Mohawk's without doubt. "The name of this high-souled war- 
rior " is not lost, as Col. Stone feared. The biographer of Van Cam- 
pen makes out a satisfactory case for Captain Mohawk. 


and paraded around it with hideous chants and a great 
clattering oflittle deer-skin drums. On one of thfse 
grand field-days, the whole tribe, arrayed most fantas- 
tically, was marching around the fire, and with the 
flourishing of knives, the battering of drums, and the 
howling of war songs, had worked themselves up into 
a brilliant state of excitement. The settlers, boys and 
men, were standing near watching the performance, 
when a high-heeled young savage stepped out of the 
line and inquired of one of the^standers^ — 

" What's your name 1 " \ 

The settler informed him. 

" D d liar ! d d hog ! " said the Indian. 

Elias Stephens, who was a prompt and high tem- 
pered youth, said, " Daniel, I wish he would just ask 
me that question." 

The Indian instantly turned and said, 

" What's your name 1 " 

" BJias Stephens." 

« D-^^d liar ! d d " 

The sentence remains unfinished up to the present 
date. A well-planted blow of the fist knocked the 
barbarian headlong over the fire, senseless. The sen- 
sation for a moment was great. The dance was stopped, 
the drums became dumb ; tomahawks and knives were 
brandished ho longer, and the savages stood aloof in 
such angry astonishment, that the bystanders trembled 
for their skulls. The Chief however came forward, 
and striking Stephens approvingly on the shoulders, 
said, "Good enough for Indian." He expected his 
warriors to behave themselves like gentlemen, and 


■when copper-colored gentlemen so far forgot themselves 
as to use indelicate or personal language, he would 
thank pale-faced gentlemen to knock them over the 
fire, or through tho fire, or into the fire, as it might 
be most convenient. The dance went on with renewed 
vigor, but the punished pagan descended from his high 
horse and sat aside in silence, volunteering during the 
rest of the entertainment no more flourishes not pro- 
mised " on the bills." 

Sometimes the Indians treated the settlers to a dis- 
play of their tactics. Hiding behind a rampart of roots 
or lying in ambush among the bushes, at a signal given 
the whole party fired their rifles at certain imaginary 
foes. The chief sprang up and raised the war-whoop, 
and then the three hundred joined in that frightful cry 
of the Six Nations, which, to use the favorite»j)hrase 
of the pioneers, " was enough to take the hair off a 
man's head." Then, rushing out, they tomahawked the 
pumpkins and scalped the turnips, then dodged back 
to their covert and lay still as snakes. 

Elias Stephens, for his prowess and resolution, be- 
came an object of respect to the red gentry. Four- 
teen men were working in Bennett's millyard when 
sixteen " Romans" came down whooping furiously, and 
drove the lumbermen from their work, took possession 
of the mill, and converted it into a dancing saloon. It 
was told to Stephens. " What !" said he, " you four- 
teen let sixteen of those critters drive you out of the 
yard ! Lord ! I can whip a hundred Indians." And 
taking the swingle of a flail ran to the mill. The In- 
dians were capering about in high glee, brandishing 
8* • 


their knives and shrieking very like Mark Antony and 
fifteen other Romans, and indulging in all those antics 
\rith which the barbarians of the Log-House were wont 
to divert themselves. 

" Put up those knives, damn you, and march," said 
Stephens. The diversions came to a sudden pause. 
"Put up those knives, damn you, and be oif, or I'll 
beat all your brains out !" The Romans said never a 
Word, but stuck their knives into their belts and de- 


Our notes of the settlement of the lower valley of 
the Canisteo are very brief. None of the original set- 
tlers of Addison are now living in the county. We 
can present nothing more than the names of these 
pioneers. The settlement of Addison was commenced 
probably in 1790, or shortly after. The first settlers 
were Reuben and Lemuel Searles ; John, Isaac, and 
James Martin ; Jonathan Tracy ; William Benham ; 
Martin Young, and Isaac Morey. 

The first name of the settlement was Tuscarora. 
This was afterwards changed to Middletown, and 
again to Addison. 

The first tavern was kept by Reuben Searles, on 
Lockerby's stand. 

George Goodhue built a saw-mill there as early as 

The first generation of settlers, as we are informed, 
has become extinct. Messrs. William Wombaugh, 


William B. Jones, John and Stephen Towsley, and 
Rev. Tarathmel Powers, though early settlers, came 
in a few years after the first settlement. 

The pioneers of the town of Cameron were Joseph 
Warren, John Helmer, Samuel Baker, and Andrew 

This meagre notice of the settlement of the valley 
below the present town of Canisteo is the most com- 
plete that could be obtained from the best authorities 
to whom the writer was referred. 


The first settlements in the Tioga Valley were made 
just over the Pennsylvania line, in the neighborhood of 
Lawrenceville. Samuel Baker, afterwards .jf Plea- 
sant Valley, in this county, settled upon the op^ijflat, 
at the mouth of the Oowenisc(,ue Creek, in, 1787, ^d 
not long afterwards a few other settlers, the Stonl^) 
the Barneys and the Daniels, who also afterwards re- 
moved to Pleasant Valley, erected cabins in the wild 
grass and hazel bushes of the vicinity- 
Col. Eleazer Lindley, a native . of New Jersey, and 
an active officer of the "Jersey Blues ", during the 
Revolutionary War, rode through the Genesee country 
previous to the year 1790, to find a tract of land where 
he might establish himself, and gather his children 
around him. The sickliness of the regions around Se- 
neca and Canandagua takes deterred him from locat- 
ing his township in the rich northern plains, and he 
purchased township number one of the second range, 


a rugged and most unpromising tract for agricultural 
purposes, but intersected by the fine valley of the Tio- 
ga. The healthy hills, the pure springs, and the clear 
beautiful river, descending from the ravines of the 
AUeganies, promised, if not wealth, at least freedom 
from those fevers, agues, cramps and distempers, ■which 
prostrated the frames and wrenched the joints of the 
unfortunate settlers in the northern marches. 

In the spring of 1790, Col. Lindley started from 
New Jersey with a colony of about forty persons, who, 
with their goods, were transported in wagons to the 
Susquehanna. At Wilkesbarre the families and bag- 
gage were transferred to seven-ton boats and poled up 
the river, according to the practice of emigrants pene- 
trating Ontario county by that valley ; while the horses 
and cattle, of which there were thirty or forty, were 
drivi^ along the trails, or rude roads, on the bank. 
On the 7th day of June, 1790, the colony reached the 
place of destination. 

Two sons of Col. Lindley, Samuel and Eleazer, and 
five sons-in-law, Dr. Mulford, Ebenezer Backus, Capt. 
John Seely, Dr. Hopkins and David Payne, started 
with the colony from New Jersey. Dr. Hopkins re- 
mained at Tioga Point to practice his profession. The 
others settled near Col. Lindley. 

The river-flats were " open," and overgrown with 
strong wild grass and bushes. Ploughs were made by 
the settlers after their arrival, and as soon as these 
were finished, the flats were immediately broken, as 
on the Canisteo, with four oxen to each plough. The 
season was so far advanced, that the crop of corn was 


destroyed by frost, but a great harvest of buckwheat 
was secured. With buckwheat, milk and game, life 
was stayed during the first winter. History, looking 
sharply into the dim vale of ancient Tioga, smiles to 
see the image of " Old Pomp," a negro pounding buck- 
wheat in a samp-mortar, from the first ice in Novem- 
ber till the breaking up of the rivers in March, when 
canoes can find a passage to Shepard's Mill, on the 
Susquehanna. History also, in this connection, will 
embrace the opportunity to rescue Old Pomp from ob- 
livion for the notable exploit of killing four bucks at a 
shot, and has the pleasure, therefore, of handing the 
said Pompey down to future generations as a fit sub- 
ject for as much admiration as an intelligent and pro- 
gressive race may think due to the man who laid low, 
with a musket at one shot, four fine bucks, as they 
were standing in the water. 

Colonel and Mrs. Lindley were members of the 
Presbyterian Church, at Morristown, in New Jersey. 
In his settlement the Sabbath was strictly observed. 
Travelling missionaries were always welcomed, and 
when none such were present, the settlers were collected 
tohear a sermon read by Col. Lindley himself. In 1793, 
Col. Lindley was elected a member of the Legislature, 
and while attending the sessioi) of that body died in 
New York. Numerous descendants of Col. L. live in 
the neighborhood settled by him. His son, Hon. Elea- 
zer Lindley, was, for several years, a Judge of the 
County, Court. He died in 1825. 



While our foremost pioneers were reaping their 
first harvests in the valleys of the Canisteo and Che- 
mung, great schemes were on foot in the Capital of the 
British Empire for the invasion of the Genesee wilder- 
ness. An officer of the royal army had conceived a 
splendid project for the foundation of a city in the 
midst of the forest, and, sustained hy men of wealth 
in London, was about to penetrate its inmost thickets 
to raise up a Babylon amongst the habitations of the 
owl and the dragon. 

The first purchasers of the Indian territory between 
the Genesee River and Seneca La,ke had sold an im- 
mense estate to Robert Morris, the merchant. Morris 
had offered his lands for sale in the principal cities of 
Europe. The representations of his agents gained 
much attention from men of capital, and three gentle- 
men of London, Sir William Pulteney, John Hornby, 
and Patrick Colquhoun, purchased that noble estate 
which has since borne the name of the English Baronet. 
Their agent, Captain Charles Williamson, visited' 


America, and excited by the reports transmitted by 
him, the associates indulged in brilliant dreams of the 
destiny of the -wilderness which had fallen into their 

It was plain to see that the noblest forest of the 
Six Nations was soon to pass from the hands of those 
unfortunate tribes. This magnificent woodland, en- 
closed on three sides by Lakes Erie and Ontario, and 
that chain of rivers and slender lakes which divides 
our State into Central and Western New York, was 
already invaded by the forerunners of civilization. 
Traders had established themselves on the great trails. 
Explorers had marked cascades for the mill-wheel, and 
council groves for the axe. Tribe after tribe had first 
wavered and then fallen before the seductions of the 
merchant and the commissioner, was easy to see^ 
that against the temptations of rifles and red rags and 
silver dollars, the expostulations of the native orators, 
who besought the clans to hold forever their ancient 
inheritance, would be powerless. Uneasy emigration 
was already pressing the borders of the whole western 
country, and, like water about to flood the land, was 
leaking through the barriers of the wilderness at every 
crevice. Wyoming rifles were already cracking among 
the hills of Canisteo. New England axes were already 
ringing in the woods of Onondaga and Genesee, and 
most fatal of all signs, a land-ogre from Massachusetts 
sat in his den at Canadarque, carving the princely do- 
main of the Senecas into gores and townships, while 
the wild men could but stand aside, some in simple 


wonder, others with Roman indignation, to seethe par^ 
tition of their inheritance. 

It is not difficult to see what will be the end of this, 
thought the British castle builders. In half a century 
the wild huntsmen will be driven to the solitudes of the 
Ohio. This wonderful forest will have fallen, and 
men of Celtic blood and Saxon sinews will have pos- 
sessed themselves of a land of surpassing richness. A 
city of mills will stand by the cataracts of Genesee. 
A city of waJr^houses at the foot of Lake Erie will re- 
ceive at her doqks the barges of traders from the illim- 
itable western wilderness. Fields of fabulous fertility 
will bask in the sunlight where now the whooping pagan 
charges the bear in his thicket. Numberless villages 
by the rivers and secluded lakes will raise their steeples 
above the tree tops, while immeasurable farms will 
stretch from the shore of Ontario to the abutment of 
the Alleganies, and even thrust their- meadows far 
within the southern ravines and hemlock gorges like 
tongues of the sea thrust far inland. It will be a re- 
gion of exceeding beauty and of unbounded wealth. 

They further considered the avenues by which this 
western Canaan might communicate with the world 
without, and through which her products might pass to 
the sea-board. The maps revealed four natural ave- 
nues for commerce. One, in the north, led to New- 
foundland fogs and the icebergs of Labrador. The 
second, opening in the hills of Cattaraugus, conducted 
to Mississippi marshes and the Gulf of Mexico. The 
third offered itself in the north-east, where by tedious 
beating and portages, one might get into the Mohawk 


and float slowly dowji to New York Bay. But in the 
south-west, the Susquehanna thrust a branch almost 
to the centre of the Genesee country — a small but nav- 
igable river, the beginning of swift waters which might 
bear ponderous cargoes in five days to the head of 
Chesapeake Bay. Men of judgment and experience, 
the statesmen and commercial prophets of the time, 
pointed to this river as the destined highway of the 
west. According to the best of human calculation, the 
products of the Genesee, instead of being entrusted to 
the St. Lawrence, the Mississippi, or the perplexing 
channels of the Oswego and Mohawk, would inevitably 
seek this convenient valley, to be stowed in the rough 
river-craft, which, gliding down the swift waters of the 
Conhocton and Chemung, might enter on the second 
day the Susquehanna, and riding safely over the 
foaming Tapids, plow in a week, the tide water of the 
ocean. Furthermore, if in the course of centuries, 
civilized men penetrate those vast and wonderful wilds 
beyond the lakes, by What other road than this, is the 
surplus of Michigan and the north-west to reach the 
Atlantic 1 The belief was not without foundation. 
Looking at the maps, even at' this day, and observing 
how the north-western branch of the Susquehanna 
penetrates western New York, it would seem that but 
for the disastrous interference of the Erie canal and 
the unfortunate invention of railroads, the Conhocton 
valley might have been the highway of an immense 
commerce, and the roads leading to the port at the head 
of her navigable waters might have been trampled by 
tremendous caravans. 

The imagination of the castle-builders was fired at 
this prospect. Such a flood, they argued, like the 
Abysinnian waters that swell the Nile, must enrich, the 
valley through which it flows. In the midst of this 
valley must be a city — Aloairo of the West. Thither 
will all people flow. Caravans such as the deserts 
have never seen, will meet in. its suburbs. Its market 
places will present all that picturesque variety of garb 
and manner which interest the traveller in an oriental 
sea-port. There will be seen the Canadian and his 
pony from thfe beaver dams of the upper province, the 
Esquimaux with his pack of furs from Labrador, the 
bufialo-hunter from the illimitable plains of Illinois, 
the warrior from Maumee^ arid the trapper from the 
Grand Sault, while merchants from the old Atlantic 
cities will throng the buzzing bazaars, and the European 
traveller will look with amazement on the great north- 
western caravan as it rolls like an annual 'inundation 
through the city gates. The river, now narrow, crook- 
ed and choked with flood-wood, will become, by an art- 
ful distribution of the mountain waters, a deep and 
safe current, and will bear to the Susquehanna arks 
and rafts in number like the galleys of Tyre of old. 
Warehouses and mills will stand in interminable files 
upon its banks. Steeples, raonuments, pyramids^ and 
man knows not what beside, will rise in its noble 

This was the vision that greeted the eyes of the Bri- 
tish adventurers ; and to found the promised metropolis 
their agent, a Scotish oflScei', crossed the Atlantic and 
went up into the wilderness clothed with plenary pow- 


era, and with unlimited authority over the Baronet's 
banker. Castles of ivory and towers of glass glimmer- 
ed in his eyes far away among the pines. A more 
brilliant bubble never floated in the sunshine. A more 
stupendous air castle never shone before human eyes. 
Would the glorious bubble submit to be anchored to 
hillsj or would it rise like a balloon and float away 
throttgh the air 1 Gould the grand wavering air castle 
be made stone, and was it possible to change the va- 
pors) the fogs, the moonshine, the red clouds and rain- 
bows, oiit of which such atmospherical structures are 
made into brick and marble 1 If any man was fit to 
attempt such a chemical exploit, it was the one en- 
trusted by the associates with its execution. 

Charles Williamson, the_first agent of the Pulteney 
Estate, was a native of Scotland. He entered the 
British army in youth, and during the Revolutionary 
war held the commission of Captain in the twenty- fifth 
regiment of foot. His regiment was ordered to America, 
but on the passage Captain Williamson was captured 
by a French privateer. He remained a prisoner at 
Boston till the close of the war. On his return to 
Europe, he made the acquaintance of the most distin- 
guished public men of England, and was often consult- 
ed concerning American afiairs. On the organization 
of the association of, Sir William Pultenfry and the 
others, he was appointed its agent, and entered zeal- 
ously into the schemes for colonizing the Genesee 
Forest. .Captain Williamson was a man of talent, 
hope, energy and versatility, generous and brave of 
spirit, swift and impetuous in action, of questionable 


discretion in business, a lover of sport and excitement, 
and well calculated by his temperament and genius to 
lead the proposed enterprise. His spirit was so tem- 
pered with imagination, that he went up to the wilder- 
ness, not with the dry and dogged resolution of one ex- 
pecting a labor of a lifetime- in subduing the savage 
soil, but in a kind of chivalrous dashing style, to head 
an onslaught amongst the pines, and to live a Baron 
of the Backwoods in his Conbocton Castle, ruling over 
forests and rivers, after the manner of the old Norman 
nobles in England. 

Having landed in Baltimore in 1191, and taken the 
steps required by our naturalization laws, he received 
in his own name, from Robert Morris, a conveyance of 
the Pulteney estate, and begun immediately his prepar- 
ations for the colonization of the estate. Of these pre- 
liminary movements, there is but little to be said. It 
appears that he corresponded extensively with men 
whom he sought to engage in his enterprise, that he 
opened communication with many planters of Virginia 
and Maryland, proposing a transfer of themselves and 
their households from the worn-out plantations of the 
South, to the fresh woods of the Genesee ; that he 
travelled much through the country and made active 
exertions by personal application and by advertisement 
to induce farmers and emigrants of the better sort from 
Great Britain to settle upon his Northern lands. 

He established his centre of organization and corres- 
pondence at the village of Northumberland, situated 
on the Susquehanna, at the mouth of the West Branch 
of that river, then a place of much consequence, and 


one which at this day, though somewhat decayed, retains 
an ancient and old fashioned respectahility of appearance 
not to be seen in the dashing young town of New York, 
west of the Mohawk. To this old town we owe at least 
civility. For a time, during the infancy of our county, 
it was one great reliance ag9.inflt starvation and naked- 
ness. It supplied us with flour when we had no grain, 
with pork when we had no meat, with clothes when we 
were unclad, with shoes when we were unshod. It 
sent us our mails, it fitted out caravans of emigrants, 
it received with hearty cheer our gentlemen when 
weary of riding, over the desolate Lycoming road. 
Many impudent villages of the north, which now like 
high-headed youngsters keep their fast telegraphs, 
smoke anthracite coal, and drive their two-minute 
locomotives, as if they inherited estates from their an- 
cestors, were, if the truth must be told, once shabby 
and famished settlements, and when faint and perish- 
ing were saved from actual starvation by this portly 
old Susquehanna farmer, who sent out his hired men 
with baskets of corn, and huge shoulders of pork, 
with orders to see to it that not a squatter went 
hungry. By ex^;raordinary good luck these lean 
squatters became suddenly rich, and now arrayed in 
very flashy style, with Gothic steeples and Moorish 
pavilions, .and all such trumpery, driving their fine 
chariots, and smoking their sheet-iron funnels, they 
laugh most impertinently, and we may say ungratefully 
at the old Quaker who had compassion on them, when 
they lay starving in the underbrush. These things, 
let the lumberman remember, when' from his raft he 


sees the white steeple of Northumberland relieved 
against the dark precipice bejond ; the west branch 
meanwhile pouring its flood into the lordly Susquehanna, 
and renowned Shemokinn Dam, the Charybdis of pilots, 
roaring below. 

In the winter after his arrival in America, Captain 
Williamson made a visit to the Genesee by way of 
Albany and the Mohawk. In the upper valley of the 
Mohawk he passed the last of the old settlements. 
From these old German farms the road was but a lane 
-Opened in the woods, passable only on horseback, or in 
a sledge. A few cabins, surrounded by scanty clear- 
ings, were the only indications of civilization which met 
his eye, till he stood amongst a group of cabins at the 
foot of Seneca Lake. The famed Genesee estate was 
before him. Surely few city builders of ancient or 
modern times have gazed upon districts which offered 
less encouragement to them than did the wild Iroqf.uois 
forest to the hopeful Scot. A little settlement had 
been commenced at Canandaigua. The Wadsworths 
were at Big Tree. The disciples of Jemima Wilkin- 
son, the prophetess, had established their new Jerusa- 
lem on the outlet of Crooked Lake, and, scattered 
through the vast woods, a few hundred pioneers were 
driving their axes to the hearts of the tall trees, and 
waging war with the wolves and panthers. Beyond 
the meadows of the Genesee Flats was a forest as yet 
unknown to the axe, which harbored tribes of savages 
wavering betwixt war and peace. British garrisons, 
surly from discomfiture, occupied the forts at Oswego 
and Niagara; colonies of Tories, including in their 


numbers men of infamous renown, dwelt on the frontiers 
of Canada, on lauds allotted to them by the crown, 
and there were not wanting those amongst the military 
^nd political agents of the provincial government who 
incited the jealous barbarians to the general slaughter 
of the backwoodsmen. 

Wilderness upon wilderness was before him. Wil- 
derness surrounded the white ice-bound lakes above 
Erie, and spread over plains and mountains to the 
fabulous prairies of which the Indians told tales too 
wonderful for belief. The British troops and a few 
French settlers near Detroit, with a few traders and 
agents amongst the Ohio tribes, were the only civilized 
occupants of the far west. In the southern districts 
-of the estate there were *mall settlements on the 
Chemung and theCanisteo, accessible only from below 
by the rivers. There were settlements on the upper 
Susquehanna and at Tioga Point- 
In the following summer Captain Williamson de- 
termined to open a high road from Northumberland to 
the Genesee. The only road leading to the north from 
the mouth of the West Branch followed the valley of 
the Susquehanna, which at this point, to one going 
above, begins a long and unnecessary ramble to the 
east. A direct road to the Genesee would cross a 
ridge of the Alleganies. An Indian trail, often trod 
during the Revolution by parties from the fastnesses 
of the Six Nations, ran over the mountains ; but to open 
a road through the shattered wilderness, which would 
be passable for wagons, was deemed impossible. After 
a laborious exploration, however, by the agent and a 


party of Pennsylvanian Hunters, a road was located, 
from " Ross Farm" (il«w Williamsport) to the mouth 
of Canascraga Creek, on the Genesee, a distanee of 
one hundred and fifty miles. This, road was opened 
in the ensning autumn by a party of German 

The fortunes of this German colony formed quite a 
perplexing .episode -in Captain Williamson's history. 
" The time when Ben Patterson brought the Germans 
through" is yet remembered by a few of our aged 
citizens. The simplicity, the sufferings and the terrors 
of these Teutonic pioneers w«re sources of much amuse- 
ment to the rough backwoodsmen, and their passage 
through the wilderness and over the wild Laurel Moun- 
tains, was in early times an event so momentous, that 
although the matter has strictly but little reference to 
the history of this county, it may nevertheless be per- 
mitted to recount their frights aiid tribulations. 

It seems that Mr. Colquhoun, who conducted the 
business affairs of the Association, became acquainted 
in London with a certain Dr. Berezy, a German of edu- 
cation and address, who engaged to collect a colony of 
his countrymen, and conduct them to the Genesee 
lands under the auspices of the associates. Captain 
Williamson seems not to have favored the scheme,, but 
while living at Northumberland in 1792, the colony, 
arrived, and it fell upon him to devise some plan of 
disposing of this very raw material to the best advan- 
tage. "There were about two hundred of them, men 
women and children. Though stout and healthy 
enough, they were an ignorant and inexperienced peo- 


pie, accustomed to dig with the spade in the little gar- 
dens of the Fatherland, and as unfit for forest work and 
the rough life of the frontiers as babes. Captain Wil- 
liamson, with his high and hopeful spirits, did not lay 
the matter deeply at heart, but eneauraged the honest 
folk, and filled their heads with fine tales, till they 
saw almost as many balloons hanging afar off over the 
wilderness as the enthusiastic Briton himself beheld. 

It was determined to send them over the mountains 
to the Tioga, thence by the valleys of that river and 
of the Conhoeton, to Williamsburgh, oh the Genesee. 
It was necessary to give the emigrants in charge to 
some reliable and energetic guide, who would see to it 
that they did not fall into the rivers, or break their 
necks over the rocks, or be crushed by falling trees, or 
be devoured of bears, or frightened out of their wits 
by owls and buzzards. Benjamin Patterson, the hun- 
ter, who was well acquainted with the German lan- 
guage, and in whose judgnient and resolution Captain 
Williamson had entire confidence, was employed in 
this capacity. He was abundantly provided with 
money and means. Seven stout young Pennsylvanians, 
well skilled in the use of the axe and the rifle, were 
chosen by him as assistant woodsmen, and these and 
the Germans were to open the road, while the guide, 
in addition to his duties as commander of the column, 
undertook to supply the camp with game. 

It was in the month of September when the emi- 
grants appeared at the mouth of Lycoming Creek, 
ready for the march to the Northeri; Paradise. The 
figure of the Guide, girt for the wildenness, with his 


hunting shirt, belt, knife and tomahawk, appeared to 
the simple Germans rather an odd one for a shepherd 
■who was to lead them over Delectable Mountains to 
meadows and pleasant brooks. It seemed rather like 
the figure of some hard-headed Mr. Great-Heart, 
arrayed with a view to such bruises as one must expect 
in a jaunt through the land of Giant Grim and other 
unamiable aborigines; and when the seven stalwart 
young frontiersmen stood forth,, girt, in like manner, 
for warfare or the wilderness, visions of cannibals and 
congars, of bears and alligators, of the bellowing 
unicorn and the snorting hippopotamus, were vividly 
paraded before the eyes of the startled pilgrims. 

A little way up the creek they commenced hewing 
the road. Here- the Germans took their first lessons 
in wood-eraft. They were nofready apprentices, and 
never carried the art to great perfection. We hear of 
them in after years sawing trees down.* T^<p heavy 
, frpbtier axe, (nine-poundef^often,) was to them a very 
grievous thing. -They became weary and lame ; the 
discomforts of the woods were beyond endurance, and 
their cpmplaints grew longer and more doleful at each 
.sunsetiJ^But in a few weeks they found themselves 
deep in the wilderness. The roaring of torrents, the 
murmur of huge trees, the echoes of the glens, the 
precipices, at the feet of which ran the creeks, the 
forests waving on the mountains, and crowding the 
ravines like armies, were sounds and sights unknown 

* " An old gentleman, who came over the road in an early day, 
saya the trees looked as if they had been gnawed down by beaver." — 
Turner's Phelps and Govham's Purchase. 


to the pleasant plains of Germany. When it was 
night, and the awful howling of the wolves all around 
scared the children, or when the crash of great trees, 
overflirned by the high and whirling winds of autumn, 
woke the wives from dreams of home, or when the 
alatmed men, aroused in the mid-watches by strange 
uproars, looked out into the darkness to see enormous 
black clouds sailing over head, and the obscure cliffs 
looming around, while goblins squeaked and whistled 
in the air, and kicked the tents over, then they all 
gave way to dismal lamentations. • "The equinoctial 
storms came on in due time, and it was sufficiently dis- 
heartening to see the dreary rains pour down hour 
after hour, while the gorges were filled with fog, and 
vapours steamed up from the swollen torrents, and 
the mountains disguised themselves in masks of mist, 
OP seemed, Hke Laplanders, to muffle themselves in huge 
hairy clouds, and to pull fur-caps over their faces* 
No retreat could be hoped' for. Behind them were the 
clamorous creeks which they had forded, and which, 
like anacondas, would have swallowed the whole colony 
but for the Guide, who was wiser than ten serpentsj 
and outwitted them: behind them were bears, were 
owls exceeding cruel, were wild men and giants, which 
w«re only held in check by the hunter's rifle. The 
Guide was merciless. The tall Pennsylvanians hewed 
the trees, and roared out all manner of . boisterous 
jokes, as if it were as pleasant a thing to flounder 
throu^ the wilderness as to sit smoking in the quiet 
orchards of the Rhine. / / 

They arrived at the Laurel Ridge of the Alleganies, 


which divided the Lyjeoming from the head waters of 
the Tioga. Over this, a distance of fifteea miles, the 
road was to be opened — no great matter in itself, 
surely, but it could hardly have been a more s?rious 
thing to the emigrants had they been required to make 
a turnpike over Chimborazo. When, therefore, they 
toiled over these long hills, sometimes looking off 
into deep gulfs^ sometimes descending- into wild, hol- 
lows, sometimes filing along the edges of precipices, 
their sufferings were indescribable. The Guide was in 
his element. He scoured the ravines, clambered over 
the rocks, and ever and anon the Germane, from the 
tops of the hills, heard the crack of his rifle in groves 
far below, where the elk was browsing, or where the 
painted catamount, with her. whelps, lurked in the tree 
tops. Not for wild beasts alone did the hunter's eye 
search. He could mark with pleasure valleys and 
mill streafQS, and ridges of timber : he could watch the 
labors of those invisible artists of autumn, which came 
down in the October nights and decorated the forests 
with their frosty bushes, so that the moraing sun found 
the valleys arrayed in all the glory of Solomon, and 
the dark robe of laurels that covered the ranges, 
spotted with many colors, wherever a beech, or a ma- 
ple, or an oak thrust its solitary head through the 
crowded evergreens : he could smile to see how the 
" little people" that came through the air from the 
North Pole were pinching the butternuts 'that hung 
over the creeks, and the walnuts which the squirrels 
spared, and how the brisk and impertinent agents of 
that huge mOBOpoly, the Great Northern Ice Associa- 


tion, came down with their coopers and headed up the 
pools in the forest, and nailed bright hoops around the 
rims of the mountain ponds. The Indian Summer, so 
brief and beautiful, set in — doubly beautiful there in 
the hills. But the poor emigrants were too disconsolate 
to observe how the thin haze blurred the rolling ranges, 
and the quiet mist rested upon tBe many-colored val- 
leys, or to listen to the strange siknce of mountains 
and forests, broken only by the splashing of creeks far,^ 
down on the rocky floors of the ravines. Certain birds 
of omen became very obstreperous, and the clamors of 
these were perhaps the only phenomena of the season 
noticed by the pilgrims. Quails whistled, crows cawed, 
jays scolded, and those seedy buccaneers, ' the hawks, 
sailed over head, screaming in the most piratical man- 
ner — omens all of starvation and death. Starvation, 
however, was not to be dreaded immediately ; for the 
hunter, roving like a hound from hill to hill, supplied 
the camp abundantly with game. 

The men wept, and cursed Captain Williamson bit- 
terly, saying that he had sent them there to die. They 
became mutinous. " I could compare my situation," 
said the Guide, " to nothing but that of Moses with 
the children of Israel. I would march them along a 
few miles, and then they would rise up and rebel." 
Mutiny efiected as little with the inflexible commander 
as grief. He cheered up the downhearted and fright- 
ened the mutinous. They had fairly to be driven. 
Once, when some of the men were very clamorous, and 
even ofiered violence, Patterson stood with his hack 
to a tree, and brandishing his tomahawk furiously, said 


" If you resist me, I will KILL you — every one of 
you." Thefeupon discipline was restored! 

They worked along slowly enough. At favorable 
places for encampment they built block-houses, or 
Flocks, as the Germans called them, and opened the 
road for some distance in advance before moving the 
families further. These block -houses stood for many 
years landmarks in the wilderness. September and 
October passed, and it was far in November before 
they completed the passage of the mountains. The 
frosts were keen ; the' northwesters whirled around 
the hills, and blustered through the valleys alarmingly. 
Then a new disaster befell them. To sit of evenings 
around the fire smoking, and drinking of coffee, and 
talking of the Fatherland, had been a great comfort in 
the midst of their sorrows ; but at length, the supply 
of coffee was exhausted. The distress, was wild at this 
calamity. Even the men went about wailing and ex- 
claimed, " Ach Kaffee ! Kaffee ! mein lieber Kaffee !" 
{Oh ! Coffee ! Coffee ! my dear ^Coffee !) How- 
ever no loss of life followed the sudden failure of Cof- 
fee and the column toiled onwards. 

At thfe place now occupied by the village of Bloss- 
burgh, they made a camp, which, from their baker 
who there built an oven, they called " Peter's Camp." 
Paterson, while hunting iiv this neighborhood, found a 
few pieces of coal which he cut from the ground with 
his tomahawk. The Germans pronounced it to be of 
good quality. A half century from that day, the hill 
which the guide smote with his hatchet, was " punched 
full of holes," miners were tearing out its jewels with 


pickaxes and gunpowder, and locomotives were carying 
them northward by tons. 

Pushing onward seven miles further they made the 
^^ Canoe Camp," a few miles below the present village 
of Mansfield. When they reached this place, their 
supply of provisions was exhausted. The West Branch 
youths cleared two acres of ground ; Patterson killed 
an abundant supply of game, and went down with some 
^sf his young men to Paiiited Post, thirty miles or 
more below. He ordered provisions to be boated up 
to this place from Tioga Point, and returned to the 
camp with several canoes.* He found his poor peo- 
ple in utter despair. They lay in their tents bewail- 
ing their misfortunes, and said that the Englishman 
had sent them there to die. He had sent a ship to 
Hamburgh, he had enticed them from their homes, he 
had brought them over the ocean on purpose that he 
might send them out into the wilderness to starve. 
They refused to stir, and begged Patterson to let them 
die. But he was even yet merciless. He blustered 
about without ceremony, cut down the tent-pole with 
his tomahawk, roused the dying to life, and at length 
drove the whole colony to the river bank. •' 

Worse and worse ! When the Germans saw the 
■slender canoes, they screamed with terror, and loudly 
refused to entrust themselves to such shells. The 
woodsmen, however, put the women, the children and 

* Some of the canoes ■vrere made at the camp and some were 
pushed Tip from Painted Post. Oapt. Charles Wolcott, now resid- 
ing near Corning, went up with a canoe and brought down twenty- 
four Germans. 


the sick, into the canoes almost by main force, and 
launched forth into the river, while the men followed by 
land. Patterson told them to keep the Indian trails 
but as this sometimes went back into the hills, and out 
of sight of the river, they dared not follow it for fear 
of being lost. So they scrambled along the shore as 
best they could, keeping their eyes fixed on the flotilla, 
as if their lives depended upon it. They tumbled over 
the banks ; they tripped up over the roots ; where the 
shores were rocky, they waded in the cold water be- 
low. But the canoes gliding merrily, downward wheel- 
ed at last into the Chemung, and the men alpo, accom- 
plishing their tedious travels along the shore, emerged 
from the wilderness, and beheld with joy the little 
cabins clustered around the Painted Post. 

Here their troubles ended. Flour and coffee, from 
Tioga Point, were waiting for them, and when Peter 
the Baker turned out warm loaves from his oven, and 
der lieber Kaffee steamed from the kettles with grateful 
fragrance, men and women crowded around the guide,, 
hailed him as their deliverer from wild beasts and pe- 

j rilous forests, and begged his pardon for their bad 

i behaviour. 

It was now Decemiber. They had been three months- 
in the wilderness, and were not in a condition to mov& 
onward to the Genesee. Patterson, with thirty of the 
most hardy men, kept on, however, and opened the 
road up the Conhoeton to Danville and the place of 
destination. The others remained through the winter 
of 1793 at Painted Post. " They were the simplest-' 
creatures I ever saw," said an old lady ; " they had 


a cow with them, and they loved it as if it was a child. 
When flour was scarcest, they used to feed her with 

The whole colony was conducted to the Genesee in 
the spring. There was, at this time, a single settler 
in the valley of the Conhocton, above the settlements 
near Painted Post. The fate of the first potato crop 
of the Upper Conhocton is worthy of record. This 
settler had cultivated a little patch of potatoes in the 
previous summer, and of the fruits of his labor a few 
pecks yet remained, buried in a hole. The Germans 
snuflfed the precious vegetables and determined to have 
them. Finding that they could be no more restrained 
from the plunder of the potato hole than Indians from 
massacre, Patterson told them to go on, and if the 
owner swore at them to say, " thank'ee, tha7ik'ee," as 
if receiving a present. This they did, and the settler 
lost his treasures to the last potato. The Guide paid 
him five times their value, and bade him go to Tioga 
Point for seed. 

Once they came unexpectedly upon a single Indian, 
in the woods, boiling a mess of succotash in a little 
kettle ; and so intent was he upon his cookery that he 
did not observe the approach of the emigrants. " 1st 
das ein wilder mann ?" (is this a wild man 1) said the 
Germans, (it was the first savage they had seen,) and 
crowded around him with eager curiosity. He did not 
once look up — perhaps for a display of Indian impert- 
urbability ; but Patterson said that the poor barbarian 
was so frightened at finding himself suddenly surround- 


ed by a crowd of strangers, "jabbering Dutch," that 
he dared not lift his eyes. 

After manifold tribulations, the Germans were at 
last deposited at the Genesee, with the loss of but one 
man, who was killed in the mountains by a falling tree. 
The subsequent fortunes of this ill-starred colony can 
be told in few words.* 

At Williamsburgh, they were abundantly provided 
for. Each family received a house and fifty acres of 
land, with a stock of provisions for present use, and 
household and farming utensils. Cattle and sheep 
were distributed amongst them, and nothing remained 
for them to do but to fall to work and cu^ivate their 
farms. Hardly a settlement in Western New York 
had such a munificent endowment as the German set- 
tlement on the Genesee. But it soon became apparent 
that the leader of the colony had failed to regard the 
instructions of Mr. Colquhoun. Instead of recruiting 
his numbers from J;he sturdy and industrious Saxon 
population, as directed, he had collected an indiscrim- 
inate rabble from the streets of Hamburgh, not a few 
of whom were vagabonds of the first water. They 
were lazy, shiftless, and of the most appalling stupi- 
dity. Breeding cattle were barbacued. Seeds, instead 
of being planted in their fields, vanished in their ket- 
'tles ; and when provisions were exhausted. Captain 
Williamson was called upon to despatch a file of pack- 
horses to their relief. The emigrants were greatly 
disappointed in the land which received them, and com- 
plained with bitterness of the treachery that enticed 
* Turner's Hist, of Phelps & Gorham's Purchase. 


ttem from the blessed gutters of Hamburgh, first to 
starve in frightful mountains, and then to toil in hungry 

At length they broke out into open and outrageous 
rebellion. Captain Williamson, who was on the ground, 
was assailed by Berezy and the rabble, and as he him- 
'self says, " nothing could equal my situation but some 
of the Parisian scenes. For an hour and a half I was 
in this situation, (in a corner of a store, between two 
writing desks,) every instant expecting to be torn to 
pieces." However, with the assistance of a few friends 
he kept the mob at bay, till Berezy at length quelled 
the tumult. The colonists then drove away or killed 
all the cattle on the premises, and held a grand ca- 
rousal. The mutiny lasted several days, till the Sheriff 
of Ontario mustered a posse of sufficient strength, and 
descended upon them by forced marches, and made 
prisoner the ringleader. Berezy, in the meantime, had 
gone to the East, where he made arrangements for the 
removal of his colonists to Canada. This transfer was 
at last effected, greatly to the relief of the London As- 
sociation and their agent, to whom the colony had been, 
from the beginning, nothing but a source of expense 
and vexation. 



Hating conducted his Germans, at last, through the 
■wilderness, and deposited them in a Canaan where the 
copper-colored Amalekites, and Jehusites, and Hiv- 
ites, had consented to an extinguishment of title, and 
were behaving themselves with marlied civility, al- 
though a few battalions of discomfited Philistians hov- 
ered sulkily on the Canadian frontiers and glowered 
from the bastions of Niagara and Oswego.* Captain 
Williamson prepared to go up to the forest in person 
and lay the foundation of a new Babylon on the banks 
of the Conhocton. The enemies of the gallant Cap- 
tain have intimated that instead of making the illus- 
trious city of the Euphrates his model, he studied to 
attain the virtues of Sodom and the graces of Gomor- 
rah, which will be shown to be a malicious slander. 

Sixteen miles above the mouth of the Conhocton, 
the valley of the Crooked Lake, uniting nearly at right 
angles with the river valley, opens in the hills a deep 
and beautiful basin, which presents, when viewed 
from an elevation, a rim of ten or fifteen miles in cir- 

* The Britisli did not evacuate those posts till 1796. 


cuit. The British officer, standing on the almost per- 
pendicular, yet densely wooded heights above the river, 
south of the old church of Bath (handsomely called in 
an early Gazetteer, " a tremendous and dismal hill,") 
looked down upon a valley covered with a pine forest, 
except where the alluvial flats, close at the foot of the 
dark hemlocks of the southern range, supported their 
noble groves of elm and sycamore, and where a little 
round lake shone in the sunlight below the eastern 
heights. A ring of abrupt highlands, unbroken as it 
seemed, except by a blue gorge in the North — the 
gateway of the gulf of Crooked Lake— -imprisoned the 
valley, and these surroundiBg hills, to which several 
hundred additional feet of altitude were given by the 
view from the southern wall, rose sometimes to the 
dignity of mountains. The prospect is wonderfully 
beautiful at the present day, from that place, where 
to view his valley the Scottish Captain may have (at 
any rate, ought to have) lain a bed of moss above the 
rocks, which just at the summit jut over the tops of 
the huge rough trees that cling to the side of the hill 
even to the foot of the precipice which surmounts it. 
But wilder and more beautiful was the picture spread 
out before the Captain's eye. Description would 're- 
call the scene but feebly. Let each patriotic citizen, 
however, inoagime as he can how all the ranges and 
ridges, the knobs and promontories, were covered with 
the richness of the forest, and consider that pleasant 
little lake just below the rising sun, how it glittered 
among the deep-green pines, and the little river also-; 
how it wrangled with the huge sycamores that, lay 


across its channel like drunten giants, and how it was 
distressed with enormous, frightful roots which clung 
to its breast with their long claws like nightmares, but 
came forth, nevertheless, from these tribulations with 
a bright face, arid sparkled delightfully among the 
elms and willows. 

In this valley the gallant city-builder determined to 
found his metropolis. Here should all the caravans 
of the West meet ; here should rise mills and stupen- 
dous granaries ; here should stand the Tyre of the 
West, sending forth yearly fleets of arks, more in num- 
ber than the galleys of the ancient city, to make glad 
the waters of Chesapeake. Whatever fallacy in his 
Political Economy may have enticed the Scot hither, 
there is certainly no place where the Demon of Busi- 
ness, had he seen fit to build him a den in these re- 
gions, could have be6n more pleasantly situated, if 
such a consideration were worthy of the notice of'his 
dusty and bustling genius. To the propitiation of this 
Divinity, the wealth of the Pulteneys and the labors of 
their minister were devoted for the next two years. 
Every device that ingenuity could suggest, every force 
that fortune could employ, every experiment that en- 
ergy dared attempt, were tried by the bold and efficient 
Cadmus of the Conhocton to divest the commerce of 
the West from the Mohawk and the Hudson, and to 
guide it down the Northwestern Branch of the Susque- 

Western , commerce has unfortunately leaked 
through another tunnel. The Demon which we 
worshipped, seemed, for a time, about to yield 


to our entreaties, an4 snuffed the incense that smoked 
on our altar with every appearance of satisfaction. 
As a wary bear walks seven times around the trap with 
suspicious eyes, hesitating to bite the tempting bait, 
yet is sometimes on the point of thrusting his nose, 
at a venture, within the dangerous jaws of steel, but 
finally turns a^ay with a growl, so this wary Caliban, 
after long debating with himself, at last refused to set 
foot on the pretty trap of Captain Williamson, and 
dug himself dens in the north where he might wallow 
in the mire of canals and marshes, and duck his head 
in the Genesee cataract. (^The political economist, 
looking at this day from the Rollway HiUs, beholds a 
melancholy spectacle. Below hiin is a valley of farms 
on which a single column of the primitive pines re- 
main like that square of the Old Guard which stood 
for a moment after the route at AVaterloo. A d^rk 
and almost unbroken forest covers the hill sides, and 
he looks down upon the streets and steeples of an idle 
and shady shire town, surrounded by pastures or mea- 
dows and groves, which has nothing to do but to enter- 
tain the county's rogues and to supply the citizens 
with law and merchandise. Neither the whistle of the 
locomotive nor the horn of the canal pilot is heaird 
there ; the wolf has hardly deserted its environs — 
hounds yet follow the deer in the woods . around it — 
logs are yet tumbled down the rollways above it. No 
warehouses line the river banks — no long ranks of 
grist-mills grumble that deep harmony so charming to 
our ears. The gallant Captain's city somehow failed 
to become a city. The wealth that was of right ours 


took to itself wings and flew to the east. Albany and 
New York, being stout and remorseless robbers, plun- 
dered us by force. Syracuse and Utica, being no 
older than we, stole our riches secretly, thieves that 
they are — (thieves from infancy and by instinct, for 
they stole their very names from a couple of decrepit 
and toothless old cities of the other hemisphere, as 
some young vagabonds have just conscience enough to 
pick the pockets of blind beggars in the street) — and 
to this day those cities stand in the face of all the 
world bedecked with their ill-got finery." The beauti- 
ful air-castle which shone before the eyes of the Ba- 
ronet, after promising a great many times to become 
marble, at last bade defiance to chemistry, rolled itself 
up into a shapeless fog, and returned to the oxygen 
from which it came. This is no secret, and to have 
reserved the announcement of it till in the regular 
course of this history it was due would have been un- 
necessary. No body for whom the story is told would 
have been in suspense — ^no body would have been 
stunned had the fact been reserved as a kind of pero- 
rating thunder-bolt. It is so well known to our citi- 
zens generally that their shire town is a very imperfect 
type of any of those ancient cities heretofore alluded 
to, and a very modest rival of those overgrown and 
raw-boned young giants suckled by the Demon, our 
enemy aforementioned, along the lakes and canals, that 
one without miraculous ingenuity "will despair of work- 
ing up its downfall into any kind of historical clap- 
trap, to astound or terrify. The plot for the subver- 
sion of the city of New York failed — failed so utterly 


that but comparatively few living men know that it 
was ever dreamed of. Sixty years after the Scottish 
Captain looked down with great hopes upon the valley 
of his choice, a Senator of the United States, address- 
ing the Legislature of this State, guests of the city of 
New York, in one of the great hotels of that metropo- 
lis, told them of a traveller's prediction at the begin- 
ning of this century, that the valley of the Conhooton 
would contain the great commercial city of the west.* 
The announcement was received with laughter by all, 
and with astonishment by many. The laughter of the 
Legislature of 1861 was fortunately a thing which sel- 
dom occasioned distress to the object of it, and the 
citizens of Steuben County were not in consequence so 
benumbed as to make it necessary for them to discon- 
tinue for a time their ordinary avocations. 

Founders of cities should always look out for omens, 
and of all ominous creatures they should especially 
keep a sharp look-out for snakes, which are above all 
things prized by soothsayers. If it be true that there 
is more in serpents than is " dreamed of in our philo- 
sophy," Capt. Williamson was favored with omens to 
a degree unusual even with founders of cities. The 
Pine Plains, (as the valley of Bath was afterwards 
known,) were infested with multitudes of rattlesnakes. 
Probably there was at that time no district in the 
Western country where these dragons met with greater 
toleration. But, in truth, toleration had little to do 
with the matter. They had taken possession of the 

*See Chap. 9, for the Speech of Mr. Senator Seward. 


valley, and held it by tooth and nail. In length, cir- 
cumference, ugliness and wisdom, it is safe to say that 
the rattlesnakes of the Pine Plains challenged compe- 
tition. There was no one to bruise their heads but the 
occasional Indian, and their hideous tribes increased 
and multiplied to a degree truly discouraging to mice 
and moles. From the little fiery serpent with ne'er a 
rattle in his tail, up to the monstrous black and deadly 
sluggard, coiled under the bush and ringing alarms 
with his twenty rattles, the whole plain was given up 
to them. When Patterson, the hunter, first visited 
this Paradise, he was startled at their multitude. 
Gliding from bush to bush, slipping under logs, re- 
treating with angry colors before his path, — now coiled 
up under a tree, when hard pressed, and wagging their 
heads in defiance, now rattling a tail full of warnings 
beneath the shrubs, this snakish populace inspired the 
hunter with dread. Fairly afraid to go farther by land, 
he took the river and waded three or four miles, till he 
believed himself fully beyond the boundaries of this 
habitation of dragons. Tradition 'Says, that when the 
plot of the village of Bath was surveyed, the number 
of rattlesnakes killed by the surveyors passed account. 
Tradition, however, has failed to preserve details, and 
many rare " snake-stories" are probably lost for ever. 
These rattlesnakes have eluded extermination like the 
Seminoles. Driven from the plains they betook them- 
selves to the mountains, like the illustrious persecuted 
in all ages. The steep, bold and sandy mountain, 
from the summit of which the rising summer sun first 
■ehines, is the last retreat of these once numerous tribes. 


Here a few wise veterans yet hide in the rocks, and 
raise infant families under circumstances of great dis- 

In 1793 Col. Williamson commenced the settlement 
of his village, called Bath, from Lady Bath of England, 
a member of the Pulteney family. " Before the end 
of the season," he says, " not less than fifteen fami- 
lies were resident in the village. Early in the season 
a saw-mill had been finished, and previous to the set- 
ting in of the winter a grist-mill with a saw-mill nearer 
the town were in great forwardness." The first men- 
tioned saw-mill stood on or near the site of the " Glass- 
mill," on the Kennedyville foad. The grist-mill stood 
near the bridge. On New Year's Day of 1794, a few 
months after the settlement, Mr. Harry McElwee, a 
young man from the north of Ireland, made his entry 
into the new-made village, and gives his first impres- 
sion substantially as follows : — " I found a few shan- 
ties standing in the woods. Williamson had his house 
where Will Woods has since lived, and the Metcalfea 
kept a log-tavern above the Presbyterian Church. I 
went to the tavern and asked for supper and lodging. 
They said they could give me neither, for their house 
was full. I could get nothing to eat. An old Dutch- 
man was sitting there, and he said to me : ' Young 
man if you will go with me you shall have some mush 
and milk for your supper, and a deer-skin to lie on 
with your feet to the fire, and another to cover your- 
self with.' I told him that I thanked him kindly, and 
would go along. We went up through the woods to 
where St. Patrick's square now is, and there the 


Dutchman had a little log-house. There was no floor 
to it. I made a supper of mush and milk, and laid 
down -with my feet to the fire and slept soundly. The 
Dutchman was travelling through to the Genesee, but 
his children were taken sick and he stopped there till 
they got well." Mr. McElwee, now residing on the 
Mud Creek, is the sole survivor of the young men 
who were with Capt. Williamson in the first years of 
the settlement, now living in the town of Bath. Mr. 
Thomas Metcalfe, of EUicotville, and Charles Came- 
ron, Esci., of Greene, with perhaps a few others, sur- 
vive of the " stout lads " who came up with their 
Captain in '94. 

The trees had, at this time, been cut away only to 
admit of the erection of cabins for the accommodation 
of the few citizens, and to open a road through the for- 
est. In the spring of 1794 Mr. McElwee, under the 
direction of Captain Williamson, made the first clear- 
ings, being the Pulteney Square and four acres behind 
the agent's house for a garden, for the cultivation of 
which he afterwards imported a gardener from Eng- 
land. The trees on the square were chopped carefully 
and close to the ground. A single pine was left stand- 
ing in front of the agency house for a Liberty Tree. 
It was trimmed so as to leave a tuft at the fop, and 
stood nodding defiance at despotism for several years, 
when it was blown down in a storm. The chopper of 
the Pulteney Square denies the popular tradition, that 
to get rid of the stumps they were undermined and 
buried. Many strange expedients were resorted to in 
those days by persons not trained from their infanc;^ 


to 1700(1 craft, to free the earth from the pitch-pine 
stumps and the oak stools which seemed to be more 
enduring than " brass and pyramids," but the tradi- 
tion of the preposterous burial, just alluded to, is 
■without foundation. 

For notices of early citizens, and the early opera- 
tions of Capt. Williamson, -vre refer to the following 
narrative : 


Some sixty years since Western New York was a 
howling wilderness, inhabited by Indians and wild 

[Note. — The following reminiscences were prepai'ed in the sum- 
mer of 1850, at the request of the publishers, by Gen. MoClure, who 
resided at that time in El^, Illinois, at the age of 80 years, and 
were submitted by him, with unlimited license to alter and amend. 
They might perhaps be disposed more advantageously to the order 
of history if brokea up and used in extracts as occasion required, 
but the narrative will probably be more acceptable as here presented 
than in any other shape. A few extracts have been inserted in 
other places. With these exceptions the narrative is almQst un- 
altered. Gen. McClure is necessarily the hero of his own story, and 
in his private instructions to the publishers desired it to be so altered 
that every appearance of sounding his own trumpet might be 
avoided. The editor was unwilling to make any changes except in 
a few passages which have been condensed. The language is fresh 
and gi-aphic, and the nai-rative gives a lively picture of the early 
business of the county. Passages, declaratory of Gen. M.'s opinions 
on politics, it was deemed absolutely indispensable to omit. It is 
proper, however, to say that he avowed himself to be a staunch 
free-soiler, a radical temperance man, and a firm believer in thd fu- 
ture glory of the TTnited States. These reminiscences are given, 
from memory. Gen. M. lost his papers by fire.] 


teasts. Where the City of Utica now stands was con- 
sidered in those days the extreme western frontier ; 
all west of that place had been but partially explored 
by civilized man. It was considered imprudent and 
dangerous to attempt a journey into that wild region. 
" After Oliver Phelps had purchased of Massachusetts 
the pre-emptive right to a large tract of land in West- 
ern New York, he made preparations to visit and ex- 
plore that wild region ; his neighbors called upon him 
to take a last farewell, as they never expected to see 
his face again." 

Much has been written, since those, days of the far 
famed west. * * * * Bq.^ jt j^g^y ^q^ ^,g asked 
what has become of it. Has it eloped or absconded 
like the wandering savage tribes that once possessed 
that goodly land "i Yes, truly it is gone, and now like 
the Children of Israel of old, it has reached the pro- 
mised land, not a land flowing with milk and honey 
only, but also with gold, silver, and precious stones. 
The great Pacific Ocean is its boundary. Here I take 
my leave of the Far West, and return to old Steuben, 
to give some account of the hardy and enterprising pio- 
neers who were the first settlers in that wild and un- 
cultivated region. 

Rev. James H. Hotchkin in his " History of the 
Presbyterian Church in Western New York," makes 
some severe strictures on the character of Capt. Wil- 
liamson and his settlers. He says, " They were prin- 
cipally from Europe or the States of Maryland and 
Virginia, with a sprinkling of Yankees, who came to 
make money." " The state of society " he remarks, 


" was very dissolute. The Sabbath was disregarded. 
Drinking, gambling, carousing, horse-racing, attending 
the theatre, with other concomitant vices were very 
general, and numbers of those who moved in the high 
circle were exceedingly depraved." I do not know 
from what source such information was obtained ; but 
this I know, that the Sabbath was not desecrated in the 
village of Bath in the manner that he represents. We 
had but two public houses in that village for many 
years. One was kept by the Metcalfe family, and the 
other by old Mr. Cruger, and after him by Mr. Bull, 
Neither of these houses suffered gambling and carous- 
ing on the Sabbath. Nor did I ever hear of a horse- 
race on the Sabbath in Bath, nor of theatrical amuse- 
ments on that, day. There were not more than four or 
five families from Maryland and Virginia that settled 
in Bath ;* the other part of our population were at 
least one half Yankees, and the other half foreigners and 
Pennsylvanians. Now I would say that instead of a 
*' sprinkling of Yankees," we had a heavy shower of 
them. I do not believe, however, that they were a fair 
sample of the sons of the Pilgrims, for a good many of 
them, to say the least, were no better' than they should 
be. I trust that nothing in my remarks will be con- 
sidered invidious. I do not intimate by any means 
that Rev. Mr. Hotchkin would knowingly state an un- 
truth, but that he has not been correctly informed in 

* Major Presley Thornton, who was the first occupant of the 
great Spring^ld House, a mile and a half below Bath, and Capt. 
■William Helen, two Virginians, were the principal Southern men 
who located at Bath. 


relation to the character of a large proportion of the 
early settlers. I admit that many were very loose in 
their morals, " lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of 
God." In the year ISOT, we employed the Rev. John 
Niles to preach for us half his time, and the other half 
in Prattsburgh. I believe he was a good man, but not 
well qualified to reform so dissolute and heathenish a 
body of men as composed Capt. Williamson's first set- 
tlers (according to the popular account of us]|^,.^™™— • 
Among the number of the most respectable Scotch 
emigrants were Charles Cameron and Dugald, his bro- 
ther. These two young men were first-rate specimens 
of the Scotch character for intelligence and integrity, 
as well as for other amiable qualities. Charles Cam- 
eron was a merchant, and the first to open a store in 
Bath. He was also the first post-master by appoint- 
ment of Capt. Williamson, who paid all expenses of 
transporting the mail once a week to and from North- 
umberland.* Some fifteen or twenty years after he 
obtained the appointment of sub-agent of the Hornby 
estate from John Greig, Esq., of Canandaigua, the 
chief agent. He moved to the village of Greene, in 
Chenango County, where he still resides. Few men 
possessed stronger intellectual powers than Dugald 
Cameron. He was highly respected by all classes of 
his neighbors and acquaintances. He was a clerk in 
the Land Office for some time, until he and Gen. 
Haight were appointed sub-agents by Col. Troup. 

* Aq old rrenchman lived at the " Blockhouse," on Laurel Ridge, 
65 luilea distant icam Bath. Thomas Corbit, the mail rider in '94,. 
went thither weekly for the Steuben County bag. 


He was a great favorite of the people of Steuben. In 
1828 they elected him as their representative in the 
Legislature of the State, which appointment with some 
reluctance he accepted. While at Albany attending 
to the duties of his station, he was seized with a violent 
complaint, and after a short and painful struggle de- 
parted this life, leaving a wife and a numerous family 
of children, most of whom have since died. His death 
was lamented by all his relations, friends, and ac- 

Andrew Smith, a trustworthy Scotchman, had the 
charge of the farming operations of Capt. Williamson ; 
such as the clearing of the land for cultivation ; and all 
other kinds of labor were committed to his charge. He 
had generally from thirty to fifty men, and some- 
times more, in his employ, and I had nearly as many 
in the house-building department. Muckle Andrew 
(as we called him, being a large man,) and myself 
were great cronies. We were both single men, and 
kept bachelors' hall. We generally met on Saturday 
evenings, alternately, in each others' apartments. , We 
had, in those days, plenty of the joyful, but we seldom 
carried matters so far as to get decently tipsy; We 
violated no pledge, for even ministers of the gospel 
and deacons, in those days, kept on their sid-e-boards 
a full supply of the best Cogniac, wine and old whis- 
key ; and when they got out of those articles, they 
would make very decent and * * * * 
* * * But I must return for a moment to 
my good friend Muckle Andrew, and relate how we 
used to spend the evenings of our social meetings* 


The first topic of conversation was the business of the 
past week, and what progress we had made in our re- 
spective vocations. The next business in order was a 
drink, then a story or a song. Andrew told the sto- 
ries, and I did the singing. My songs were generally 
the productions of Burns, such as, " Scots wha ha' wV 
Wallace hied,'" " Wfia'll be king but Charlie," and 
" Auld Lang Syne" The last verse we alvyays sung 
standing. My good friend Andrew had one favorite 
standing toast, which was as follows : 

" Here's to mysel', co' a' to my eel', 
Wi' a' my heart here's to me ; 
Here's to mysel', co' a' to mysel', 
And muckle guid may it do me." 

There were a number of respectable young men, 
natives of Scotland, arrived in Bath in the years '93 
and '94, amongst whom was Hector McKenzie, said 
to be the son of a Scotch Laird, who was employed as 
a Clerk in the Land Office. Of him I have nothing 
to say, only that he felt himself a good deal taller than 
other 'young men; and although otherwise respectable, 
I discovered that he did not possess any of the amia- 
ble qualities of his countrymen, the Camerons, and not 
a particle of the courtesy and unassuming manners of 
his employer, Capt. Williamson.* 

John Greig, Esq., (now of Canandaigua, and chief 
agent of the Hornby estate,) arrived about the same 
time, a young man of fine talents, a lawyer by profes- 
sion. He did not make Bath his place of permanent resi- 

*He died in the West Indies. 


dence, but he often paid us a visit, and we were always 
glad to see him, and never allowed him to depart with- 
out having a real jovial old-fashioned thanksgiving. 

Also, about this time, arrived Robert Campbell and 
Daniel McKenzie, both respectable mechanics. They 
have both lately departed this life. Mr. Campbell, 
{though one qfi Williamson's first settlers,) was sober 
and industrious, and a worthy member of the Presby- 
terian Church. There was also old Mr. MuUender, 
with a very interesting family, who settled on a farm 
of Capt. Williamson's, near Bath. They were from 
Scotland, and removed afterwards to the Old Indian 
Castle, near Geneva. 

I must now take leave of my Scotch friends, while I 
talk a little about my own dear countrymen, as well 
as of some of the sons of the pilgrims. 

Henry McElwee, and William, his brother, Frank 
Scott, Charles McClure, Gustavus Gillespie, and 
Brown, his brother, Samuel and John Metier, with 
large families of children — those, with many others 
whose names I do not now recollect, were natives of 
the North of Ireland, whose ancestors were of Scotch 
descent. They are all dead and gone long since, with 
the exception of Henry McElwee, who is yet alive and 
resides on his farm at Mud Creek. He was an honest, 
Bober, industrious, hard-working man, and had the 
confidence and patronage of Capt. Williamson. 

William Dunn, a native of Pennsylvania, came to 
Bath in the spring of 1793, and kept for a short time 
a house of entertainment. He was appointed High 
Sheriff of the County after its organization. He was 


a very gentlemanly man. He entered largely into 
land speculation without capital, and like many others, 
his visionary prospects soon vanished, and ■wound him 
up. He moved to Newtown, where he shortly after 
died. Mr. Dunn had two brothers, who came to Bath 
with him, or shortly after : Robert and Joseph. The 
former was called Col. Dunn. This njilitary title he 
obtained on his way from York County, in Pennsyl- 
vania, to Bath. He was one of a company of adven- 
turers and speculators, who agreed that they should 
introduce each other by certain assumed titles. Some 
Judges, others Generals, Colonels, Majors, but none 
below the grade of Captain. This Col. Dunn would 
pass anywhere as a gentleman of the first rank .in 

Old Mr. Cruger moved from Newtown to Bath, and 
kept the house lately occupied by Wm. Dunn, on the 
southeast corner of the public square. Mr. Cruger, I 
understood, was a native of Denmark — a very pleasant 
man, full of anecdote and mother wit. He was the 
father of Gen. Daniel Cruger. Gen. Cruger was a 
lawyer, and was highly respected by his fellow-citizens. 
He represented the people of Steuben County in the 
State legislature several years, and also the District in 
the Congress of the United States. He served with 
me in Canada, in the campaign of 1813, as a Major of 
Infantry, and was a faithful and vigilant officer. Some 
years since he removed to the State of Virginia, and 
died there. 

But I am violating my own rule in spinning out such 
long yarns. My locomotive being on the high pressure 


system, I find it difficult to arrest its progress. When 
I come to speSk of the trade and commerce of Mud 
Creek, and the Gonhocton and Canisteo Rivers, which 
then wormed their way over sand-bars and piles of 
drift-wood into the Chemung River, I shall have some- 
thing more to say of the enterprise of Mr. Bartles, and 
of his son Jacob, and son-in-law, Mr. Harvey. 
• The town of Prattsburgh was settled with Yankees. 
They were truly men of steady habits and correct 
morals. For further particulars I refer the reader to 
Rev. James H. Hotchkins' book in relation to the in- 
habitants of that town. 

I have said nothing of the inhabitants of the town of 
Wayne, and, with a few exceptions, would beg leave to 
be excused. Dr. Benjamin Welles moved from Kin- 
derhook, N. Y., to that town in 1798, if I am cor- 
rectly informed. He had a numerous family of children. 
Dr. Welles was a surgeon in the army of the Revolu- 
tion, and part of the time belonged to Gen. Washing- 
ton's staff. He died in 1812. 

Gen. William Kernan, an Irishman by birth, moved 
into Steuben I think about the year 1800, and settled 
in the town of Tyrone. He is an active politician of 
the Democratic party, but whether he is Hunker or 
Barnburner I am not able to say. Gen. Kernan has 
been a popular man in the county, and the people have 
conferred on him from time to time many important 

* Mr. John Faulkner, of the eastern part of the State, settled at 
an early day in Painted Post, where he died. Dr. James Faulkner, 
bis son, an eminent physician, and a public man of sagacity and 



A brief sketch of my own history will doubtless be 
expected. From the consideratiou that I have been 
one of the principal actors amongst the first settlers 
in Steuben County, and that I have undertaken to be 
the biographer of other men's lives, I can see no im- 
propriety in giving a sketch of my own. I approach 
the subject with all due modesty, divesting myself of 
anything that might have the appearance of egotism ; 
for it cannot be supposed that I have any ambitious 
views or propensities to gratify, either politically or 
otherwise, at my advanced time of life. 

I was born in Ireland, in the year TTTO ; my ances- 
tors emigrated from Scotland, and settled not far from 
the city of Londonderry. They belonged to a religious 
sect called Covenanters, who for conscience sake had 
to fly from their country to a place of greater safety, 
and out of the reach of their cruel and bigoted perse- 
cutors. I was kept at school from the age of four 
years to fifteen. The character and qualifications of 
those Irish pedagogues, to whom the education of 
youth was then committed, is not generally understood 
in this country. They were cruel and tyrannical in the 
mode and manner of chastising their pupils. Their 
savage mode of punishment, for the least oiFence, was 

After leaving school, I chose to learn the trade of a 
carpenter, and at the age of twenty I resolved to come 

eccentricity, lived at Mud Creek. He was first Judge of the County 
Coul't, from 1804 to 1813. Mr. John Faulkner, a brother of Dr. 
Faulkner, settled on a farm five miles north of the village of Bath. 
Two other brothers, Daniel and Samuel, settled at Dansville. 


to America. I therefore embarked on board the ship 
Mary of Londonderry for Baltimore. We made a 
quick and pleasant voyage of five weeks. I landed in 
Baltimore the first week in June, in good health and 
spirits. The whole of my property consisted of three 
suits of clothing, three dozen of linen shirts, and a 
chest of tools. As soon as I landed, I stepped into a 
new building, where a number of carpenters were at 
work, and inquired for the master builder. I asked 
him if he wished to employ a journeyman. He said 
that he did, and inquired how much wages I asked. 
My answer was, that I could not tell ; that I knew 
nothing of the usages of the country, as I had but a 
few minutes before landed from the ship. 

" Then," said he, " I presume your are an Eng- 

" Not exactly, sir," I replied. " Although I have 
been a subject of King George the Third, of England, 
Tny place of nativity was Ireland, but I am of Scotch 

' ' Ah, well, no matter. Come to-morrow morning 
and try your hand;" 

I did so, and worked for him two months, when he 
paid me $75. Thinks I to myself, this is a good 
"beginning — better than to have remained in Ireland, 
and worked for two shillings and sixpence per day. 

I then determined to see more of the land of liberty ; 
for at this time I had never travelled beyond the 
bounds of the city. I had some relations near Cham- 
bersburgh. Pa., and I made preparations to visit them. 
In those days there were no stages, only from city to 


city on the sea-board- All tlie trade of the back- 
woods was carried on by pack-horses, and some few 
wagons where roads were suitable. I was advised to 
purchase and rig out a pack-horse, but as to do this 
would use up half my means, I concluded to be my 
own pack-horse, and set out on foot for the far west, 
leaving the heaviest part of my goods and chattels to 
be forwarded by the first opportunity. I made good 
headway the first day, but I had put on too much 
steam and became foot-sore. I stopped for the night 
at the house of a wealthy German farmer, who had a 
large family of children, males and females, most of 
them grown up. Mine host and his good-looking Frau 
could not speak a word of English. He was very in- 
quisitive, but he might as well have talked Hindoo to 
me as German, as I could answer them only in their 
own way by a kind of grunt and shake of the head, 
which meant " I can't understand." So he called his 
son Jacob (who had been to an English school, and 
could talk a little English,) to act as interpreter. He 
told his son to ask me whence I came, and whether or 
not I was a forjloughter Irishman (that is, in plain 
English, a d- — -^' Irishman.) Thinks I this is a 
poser, and I answered judiciously, and I think cor- 
rectly, under all the circumstances. I told him I was 
a Scotchman, as in Ireland all Protestants g^ by the 
name of Scotch or English, as the case may be. My 
Dutch landsman appeared to be satisfied, and we had 
a very social chat that evening to a late hour. The 
family were all collected, young and old, to hear of the 
manners and customs of the Scotch. They seemed to 


take a great liking to me, and it was well for me that 
I had become quite a favorite, for my feet were so 
blistered with travelling that I could not move. I re- 
mained several days till I got over my lameness. 
When I called for my bill I was told that all was free, 
and was invited to remain a few days longer. I set 
out on my journey, refreshed and encouraged by the 
hospitality and kindness of that amiable Dutch family. 

In three days thereaftgr I reached Chambersburgh, 
which is one hundred miles west of Baltimore. I re- 
mained there until the spring following, when I dis- 
covered in the newspapers an advertisement, signed by 
Charles Williamson, offering steady employment and 
high wages to mechanics and laborers who would agree 
to go with him to the Genesee Country. Thinks I this 
is a good chance, and I will embrace it. I set out im- 
mediately for Northumberland, the head-quarters of 
Mr. Williamson. On my arrival there, I was told 
that Capt. W. had started with a numerous company 
of pioneers to open a road through the wilderness to 
his place of destination — 140 miles. 

I had some relations and other particular friends 
and acquaintances in that country. An uncle of mine, 
of the name of Moore, who came with hi? family from 
Ireland in the year 1790, had settled near the village 
of Northumberland. I made Uncle Moore's my home 
until I heard of the arrival of Capt. Williamson at 
Bath, when I again made my preparations to set out 
for the land of promise, accompanied by my old Unci® 
Moore, a man who had never travelled more than 
twenty miles from his old homestead in all his life, ex- 


cepting on ;his voyage to America. I told him that if 
his object in coming to this country was to purchase 
land for himself and his sons, he ought, without delay, 
to go to the Genesee country, where he could purchase 
first-rate land for one dollar per acre. This was all 
true, though I was somewhat selfish in making the 
proposition, as I did. not like to travel alone through 
the wilderness, liable to be devoured by panthers, 
bears and wolves ; so I eventually persuaded the old 
gentleman to accompany me. The old lady, Aunt 
Moore, packed up provision enough for at least a four 
weeks' journey. We mounted a pair of good horses 
and set out. We had only travelled twenty miles 
when, we came to a large rapid stream or creek, which 
from late heavy rains was bank full. Uncle Moore 
concluded to retrace his steps homeward, I told him 
I could not agree to that. " Why, we will be laughed 
at." " Well," said he, " they may laugh if they 
please," and would go no further. 

" Very well," said I, " If that's your determination, 
I will remain here until the water falls — but I see a 
house close by, and a large canoej (the first I had ever 
seen,) let us go and inquire whether it would be safe 
to swim our horses alongside of it." 

We were told there was no danger, and two men 
volunteered to put us over. Uncle Moore proposed 
that I should pass over first with my horse, and if I 
made a safe voyage, to send back for him. We landed 
in sa.fety. I got the old gentleman just where I 
wanted him. He must now go ahead, as his retreat 
was now cut off. In the meantime I had learned that 


there were two other large streams ahead of us. The 
first, called the Loyal Sock, within twelve miles, and 
the Lycoming, eight miles beyond. We went on our 
way rejoicing until we came to the Loyal Sock. There 
was no inhabitant near. What was to be done. I 
told Uncle Moore we must do one of two things, either 
swim our horses across, or encamp on the bank till the 
river falls, but I thought there was no danger in swim- 
ming, as it was a deep stream and not rapid. I pro- 
posed to go over first, .and if I arrived safe, he might 
follow if he thought proper. I gave him directions to 
hold his horse quartering up stream, and seize with his 
right hand the horse's mane, and not look down in the 
water, but straight across to some object on the other 
side. I passed over without difficulty. The old gen- 
tleman hesitated for some time. At length he plunged 
in and crossed with ease. We soon after arrived at 
the bank of the Lycoming Creek. That stream was 
high and outrageously rapid. We concluded that it 
was best to wait until it became fordable. We stopped 
at the house of one Thompson, remained there several 
days, overhauled our clothing and provisions, and made 
another fresh start, and entered the w^derness on 
Capt. Williamson's new road. 

There were no houses between Lycoming and Paint- 
ed Post, a distance of 95 miles, except one in the 
wilderness, kept by a semi-barbarian — or in other 
words, a half-civilized Frenchman, named Anthony 
Sun. He did not bear a very good character, but we 
were obliged to put up with him for the night, or en- 
camp in the woods. The next night we slept soundly 


on a bed of hemlock, on the bank of the Tioga River. 
Next day, about 12 o'clock, we arrived at Fuller's 
Tavern, Painted Post. We ordered dinner of the very 
best they could afford, which consisted of fried venison 
and hominey. After dinner we concluded to spend the 
afternoon in visiting the few inhabitants of that neigh- 
borhood, of whom I have before spoken. First we 
called upon Judge Knox, who entertained us with a 
description of the country and his own adventures. 
We next called on Benjamin Eaton, who kept a little 
store of goods, and after an introduction by Judge 
Knox to the rest of the neighborhood, returned to our 
hotel and put up for the night. In the morning we 
started for Bath, a distance of eighteen miles. When 
we reached the mouth of Mud Creek, we found that a 
house of entertainment had been erected there, and 
was kept by one Thomas Corbit, who came from Penn- 
sylvania with Williamson's company.* Thomas had 
been a soldier of the Revolution, and could sing an un- 
accountable number of patriotic songs — Hail Columbia, 
among the rest. Some thirty years after he became 
poor and helpless. I procured for him a pension, 
through Henry Clay, but he did not live long to en- 
joy it. 

We arrived at Bath and put up at the only house 

* The first settlers at the mouth of Mud Creek were Thomas Corbit, 
in '93, John Dolson, in '94, and Henry Bush. Capt. "Williamson, while 
on a journey from the North, was taken sick, and was so kindly taken 
care of at Dolson's house, on the Chemung, that he gave Mi's. D. 200 
aci-es of land wherever she might locate it, between Painted Post and 
the Hermitage. 


of entertainment in the village (if it could be called a 
house). It's construction was of pitch-pine logs, in 
two apartments, one story high, kept by a very kind 
and obliging English family of the name of Metcalfe. 
This house was the only one in town except a similar 
one erected for the temporary abode of Capt. William- 
son, which answered the purpose of parlor, dining- 
room, and land office. There were besides some shan- 
ties for mechanics and laborers. 

I called on Capt. Williamson and introduced myself 
to him as a mechanic. I told him that I had seen his 
advertisement, and in pursuance of his invitation, had 
come to ask employment. " Very well," said he, 
"young man, you shall not be disappointed." He 
told me I should have the whole of his work if I could 
procure as many hands as was necessary. We entered 
into an agreement. He asked me when I should be 
ready to commence business. I told him that I must 
return to Northumberland and engage some hands 
there, and send out tools and baggage up the North 
branch of the Susquehanna Riye,r to Tjoga Point, that 
being the head of boat navigation. 

I introduced Uncle Moore to him — told him that he 
came all the way to see the country, and that if he 
liked it, he would purchase a farm and move on it with 
his family. He made a selection four miles west of 
Bath on which some of his family now reside. 

We returned immediately to Northumberland, hired 
a few young men carpenters. We shipped our tools 
and baggage on a boat, sold my horse, and we went on 
foot to Bath, arriving there in five days. One more 


trip was necessary before we could commence business, 
as our. baggage would be landed at Tioga Point. 
There were no roads at that time through the narrows 
on the Ghemung for wagons to pass with safety ; there- 
fore eight of us started on foot for the Point. When 
we came within four miles of Newtown, we discovered 
a number of canoes owned by some Dutch settlers. I 
purchased four of them. One of them was a very large 
one which I bought of a funny old Dutchman, who said 
his canoe " wash de granny frOm de whole river up." 
My companions gave me the title of Commodore, and 
insisted on my taking command of the large canoe. I 
selected as a shipmate a young man by the name of 
Gordon who was well skilled in the management of 
such a craft. We laid in provision for the voyage and 
a full supply of ^q joyful. We pushed our little fleet 
into the river, and with wind and tide in our favor, ar- 
rived at Tioga Point in four hours, a distance of twen- 
ty-four miles. We shipped our goods, and set out 
with paddles and long setting poles against a strong 
current. Then came the tug of war. Many times we 
were obliged to land, and with a long rope tow our ves- 
sels up falls and strong riffles, and in ascending the 
ConhoctoB we had to cut through many piles of drift- 
wood. Our progress was slow. We made the trip 
from the Point (fifty-six miles) in nine days. It was 
the hardest voyage that I ever undertook. We were 
the first navigators of the Conhocton river. 

By this time Captain Williamson had erected two 
saw-mills on the Conhocton river, near Bath, and they 
were in full operation. Houses were eredted as fast 


as thirty or forty hands could finish them. Captain 
Williamson called on me and asked me how long it 
would take me to erect and finish a frame building of 
forty by sixteen feet, one and a half stories high, all 
green stuff. He told me that he expected a good deal 
of company in a few days, and there was no house 
where so many could be entertained. I told him if all 
the materials were delivered on the spot, I would en- 
gage to finish it according to his plan in about three 
days, or perhaps in less time. " Very well, sir," said 
he, " if you finish the house in the time you have stat- 
ed, you shall be rewarded." I told my hands what I 
had undertaken to do, and the time I had to do it in 
was limited to three days : " I will pay each of you 
one dollar a day extra. We shall have to work day 
and night. What say you, boys 1" Their answer 
was : " We will go it." This was followed up by 
three hearty cheers for Captain Williamson. Next 
morning I went at it with thirty hands, and in forty- 
eight hours the house was finished according to agree- 
ment. No lime-stone had yet been discovered in that 
region, nor even stone suitable for walling cellars, 
therefore the whole materials for building were from 
necessity confined to timber and nails.. Captain Wil- 
liamson paid me $400 for my forty-eight hours' job, 
and remarked that he would not have been disappoint- 
ed for double that sum. He published an account of 
this little affair in the Albany and New York papers. 
It had some effect of bringing our little settlement into> 
notice. He also gave orders for the erection of a large 
building of 80 by 40 feet, for a theatre, and for the 


clearing of one hundred acres, around which was made 
a beautiful race-course, and another on Genesee Flats, 
near Williamsburgh. Such amusements had the ef- 
fect of bringing an immense number of gentlemen into 
the county every spring and fall. This was done by 
Captain W. in order to promote the interest of his em- 
ployer. Southern sportsmen came with 'their full- 
blooded racers ; others, again, with bags of money to 
bet on the horses, and a largo proportion of gamblers 
and blacklegs. Money was plenty, in those days at 
least, in and about Bath, and was easily obtained and 
as easily lost. Some men became immensely rich in 
twenty-four hours, and perhaps the next day were re- 
duced to beggary. 

Such amusements and scenes of dissipation led to 
another species of gambling called land speculation. 
Any respectable looking gentleman might purchase on 
a credit of six years, from one mile square to a town- 
ship of land. The title that Captain Williamson gave 
was a bond for a deed at the end of the term, provided 
payment was fully made ; otherwise the contract be- 
came null and void. Those bonds were transferable 
and the speculators sold to each other, and gave their 
bonds for thousands and hundreds of thousands of dol- 
lars, which was the ruin of all who embarked in such 
foolish speculations. They became the victims of_a 
monomania. Captain W. believed that this specula- 
tion would hasten the settlement of the county, but its 
tendency proved to be the reverse. Besides, it was 
the ruin of many honest, enterprising and industrious 


Captain W. always advised me to keep clear of land 
speculation, and I resiptied the temptation for more 
than two years. ,1 was doing well enough, clearing 
several thQusand doll-ars a- year, but like many others, 
did not ' let well enough al©ne. JMj; fatherfs family 
bad arrived in the United States, and had settled, in 
the county of Npythiimberland, Pa., and I started in 
the fall of 1794 to visit-. thjeci- On my way there, I 
met with one of those speculating gentlemen with whom 
I was acquainted. •_ He offered me a great bargain, as 
I supposed, of half a Township, or 12,000 acres. It 
was the south; half, of Township Nq,- 6, now calle(^ 
South Dansville. I agreed to pay him for his right 
twenty-five cents per acre, and, paid him $1,000 in 
hand-^ftnd gave him my notes. for the. payment of the 
balance m. annual paymentSi, . I went on. to New York 
city where a. few, had b.een.,liicky, enough'to make good 
sales, ,1 employed an auctioneer^ and offered my lands 
for; sfile to the highest bidder at. the Tontine Coffee 
House. It was k,nocked off at my own bid. I return- 
ed sick enough of land jobbing, but held on to my land 
until the next races in Bath, when I made, a sale to one 
Mr. John Brown, a very respectable merchant and 
farmer of Northumberland Co., Pa. He paid. me in 
merchandise |1,OOP,. and gavehig bonds for the bal- 
ance. He shortly after failed ii^ business, and I lost 
the whole of my hard earnings.. ,,j; 

The next project that claimed ibis, attention was the 

improvement of our streams. They were then called 

creeks, but when they came to be improved, and were 

made navigable for arks and rafts, their names were 



changed to those of rivers. ^ The Colonel ordered the 
Conhocton and Mnd 'Creek to be explored by a com- 
petent committeis, and a report to be made, and an es- 
timate of the probable expense required to make them 
■navigable for arks and rafts. The report of the com- 
mittee was favorable. A numbfflr of hands were em- 
ployed to remove obstructrons and open a passage to 
Painted Post — which was done, though the channel 
still remained very imperfect and dangerous.* The 
question was then asked, who shall be the first adven- 
turer ? We had not as yet any surplus produce to 
spare, but lumber was a staple commodity, and was in 
great demand at Harrisburgh, Columbia, and Balti- 
more. I therefore came to the conclusion to try the 
experiment the next spring. I went to work and built 
an ark TS feet, long and 16 feet wide, and in the course 
of the winter got out a cargo of pipe and hogshead 
staves, which I knew would turn to good account 
should I arrive safely at Baltimore. All things being 
ready, with cargo on board, and a good pitch of water 
and a first-rate set of hands, we put out our unwieldy 
vessel into the stream', and away we went "at a rapid 
rate, and in about half an hour reached White's Is- 
land, five miles below Bath. There we ran against a 
large tree that lay across the river. We made fast 
our ark to the shore, cut away the tree, repaired dama- 
ges, and next mommg took a fair start. It is unneces- 
sary to state in detail the many diflSculties we encoun- 

*The Conhotiton was declared navigable above Liberty Corners. 
The first attempt at clearing the channel was made on the strength 
of a fund of ilOO, raised by subscription. 


tered before we reached Painted Post, but in about six 
•days we got there. The Chemung River had fallen so 
low that we were obliged to wait for a rise of water. 
In four or five days we were ifavored with a good pitob 
of water. We m&de a ftesh start, and in four days 
ran 200 miles, to Mohontongo, a place 20 miles from 
Harrisburgh, where, through the ignorance of the pilot, 
we ran upon a bar of rocks in the middle of the river, 
wherie it was one mile wide. There we lay twenty- 
fout hours, no one coming to our relief or to take us 
■on shore.. At last a couple of gentlemen came on 
board, and told us it was impossible to get the ark off 
until a rise of water. One of the gentlejnen enquired, 
apparently very carelessly, what it cost to build an 
ark of that size, andhow. many thousand staves we 
had on board. I suspected his object, and answered 
■him in his own careless manner.. He asked if I did 
not wish to pell the ark and cargo. I told him I 
would prefer going through if there was any chance of 
arise of water-^thaj; pipe-stayes, in Baltimore, were 
worth $80 per thousand, but if you wish to purchase, 
and will make me a generous offer, I will think of it. 
He offered me $600. I told him that was hardly half 
the price of the cargo at Baltimore, but if he would 
-give me $800 I would close a bargain with him. He 
said he had a horse, saddle and bridle on shore, worth 
.$200, which he would add to the $600- We all went 
■on shore. I examined the horse, and considered him 
worth the $200. We clos<id the bargain, and I started 
for Bath. I lost nothing by the sale, but if I had sue - 
oeeded in reaching. Baltimore I should have cleared 
1500. , 


The same spring, Jacob Bartles, and his bfotlier-iQ- 
law Mr. Harvey, made their way down Mud. Creek 
Trith one ark and some rafts. Bartles' Mill Pond and 
Mud Lake afforded water suflScient at any time, by 
drawing a gate, to ca*ry arks and rafts out of the 
creek; Harvey lived oti the west braneh of the- Sus- 
quehanna, and understood the management of such 

Thus it was ascertained to a certainty, that, by im- 
proving those streams, we c(}uld transport our produce 
to Baltimore — a distance of 309 miles — in the spring 
of the year, for a mere trifle. 

In the year 1T95 I went to Albany on horseback. 
There was no rbad from Cayuga Lake to Utica better 
than an Indian trail, ■ and- no accommodations that I 
fouiid better than Indian wigWaMS; It may save me 
some trouble if I tell what took me there, a-hd all about 
my business. I volunteered to give a history of my 
own life, and I shall redeem my pledge so far as iny 
memory will enable me to do so; I had got it into my 
head to dispose of my cheist of tools, and turn mer- 
chant. I therefore settled my accounts 'with CoL 
Williamson. He galve me a draft on a house in Al- 
bany for $1,500,' accompanied by letters of recom- 
mendation. I laid in a large assortment of merchan- 
dise,' and shipped theto on board a Mohawk boat. 
Being late in the fall the winter set in, and the boat 
got frozen up in the river about" thirty inileS west of 
Scheneotadyj at- a place called the Cross Widow's, 
otherwise called the Widow Veeder's. Herethe goods 
lay for about two months, till a sleighiroad was opened 


from Utiea to Cayuga Lake. About the last of Janu- 
ary I started with sleighs after my goods, and in two 
weeks arrived at Bath. 

I have already mentioned tljat Col. Williamson, ex- 
pended a good deal of money in improving a number 
of farms, and erecting a number of, buildings on them, 
which gave employment to many hands.* These hands 
were my best customers, and paid up their accounts 
every three months by orders on Williamson ; bi^t 
orders came from England to stop such improvements, 
and shortly after Col. W. resigned his agency. Those 
tenants and laborers got iii my debt, at this time, 
about $4,000, and- in one night the whole of them 
cleared out for Canada. They were a sad set of un- 
principled scamps.^ They were a part of that " sprink- 
ling of Yankees that came to make money." There 
was not one foreigner, nor a Virginian, nor a Mary- 
lander amongst them. They were a part of the first 
settlers in the town of Wayne. I waited some time 
till they got settled down in Upper Canada,, and then 
started to pay them a visit. At that time there were 
no white inhabitants between Genesee River and Nia- 
gara, a distance of about 90 miles. I lodged one night 
with the Tonnewanta Indians, and the next day crossed 
the river to Newark. I found some of my customers 

*Several of the Haverling, Brundage and FaulSner farms, north 
ofthe village of Bath, were cleared by dapt. W. He built large 
framed bai-ns on them, and settled them with tenants. The scheme 
was a failure. The soil, even at that early day, declared its abhor- 
rence of estates other than for fee-simple. After Capt. W.'s depar- 
ture, the farms were almost hopelessly overrun with oak brush.] 



at York or Toronto,'-' and some at tbe Bay of Canty. 
I employed a lawyer nanied McDonald, wHo advised 
me to get all I could from them in the first place, aiid 
he would unctertake to collect the balance if they were 
worth"it-. They paid me about $200. I heard that 
some of them had gqriie up Lake Erie, and were in De- 
troit. I re-crossed Lake Ontario, wetit to Fort- Erie, 
and up the lake' in the old U. S. brig Mams. She 
■Was the only; Vessel on the lake, -except one small 
schooner. I was nine days on ;to passage.; I found 
some of- my runaways at Detroit, but 9id not receive 
one' cent of them. I" set my face homewards — was 
taken sick on my passage down the lake, and lay six 
weeks at Fort Erie. The physiciiins pronounced my 
case hopeless', but owing to the kindness and attention 
of Mrs. Crow, iny landlady, and of Col. Warren, the 
commissary of the garrison, I recovered. I at length 
reached home, after an absence of three months. My 
la-vvyefcMcDonald was shortly after drowiied in cross- 
ing thSlake. . It was the last I heard of him or of my 
papers. ~ 

My next start in business was attended with a little 
better success. My brother Charles kept a small 
Store in Bath, and in the year 1800 we entered into 
partnership. I moved to Dansville, opened a store, 
and remained there one year. I did a safe business, 
and took in that winter 4,000 bushels of wheat and 
200 barrels of pork — -huilt four arks, at Ashport, on 
the Cahisteo River, and ran them down to Baltimore. 
These were the first arks that desceiided the Canistoo. 
My success in trade that year gave me another fair 


start. My brother, in the mean time, went td Phila- 
delphia to lay in a fresh supply of goods for both 
stores ; but on his TTay home he died very suddenly at 
Tioga Point. He had laid in about $30,000 worth of 
goods. I returned to Bath with my family — continued 
my store at Pansville^opened one at Penn Yan, and 
Sent a small assortment to Pittstown, Ontario County. 
At this time I purbhased the Cold SpringlJMiHsite, 
half -fray between Bath and Crooked Lake, of one 
Skinner, a Quaker, with '200 acres of- land, and pur- 
chased from the Land Office and others about 800 
acres, to secure the whole privilege. Here I erected a 
flouring-mill, saw-mill, fulling-mill and carding ma- 
chine. I perceived 'that wheat wotild be the principal 
staplB of the farmers, and I also knew froni experience 
that there would be great risk in running wheat to 
Baltimore down a very imperfect and dangerous navi- 
gation, and the risk in running flour, well packed, com- 
paratively small. The flouring mill, with twO'-run of 
stones, I completed in' the best manner in three 
months. I sent "handbills into a,ll the adjoining coun- 
ties, offering a liberal price for wheat delivered at my 
mills, or at any stores in Dansvill6, Penn Yan and 
Pittstown. I received in the cours6 of the winter 
20,000 bushels of wheat, two-thirds of which I floured 
and packed a,t my mills ; built in the winter eight arks 
at Bath, and four on the Canisteo. In the spring I 
ran the flour to Baltimore, and the w'heat tO Columbia. 
The river was in fine order, and we made a prosperous 
vpyage and a profitable sale. I cleared enough that 
spring to pay all my expenditures and improvements 


on the Cold Spring property. After disposing of my 
cargo, I went to Philadelphia and settled -with my mer- 
chants, laid in a very extensive assortment of goods., 
loaded two boats at. Columbia, and sent theni up the 
river io Painted Post. 

My next project was to build a sphooneron Crooked 
Lake, of about thirty tons burden, for the purpose of 
carrying wheat from Penn Yan to the head of the lake. 
I advertised the schooner Sally as a regular trader on 
Crooked Lake. The. embargo to the contrary not- 
vnthstanding, (for Jefferson's long embargo had then 
got into operation.) Some of my worthy democratic 
brethren in the vicinity of Penn Yan charged me with 
a want of patriotism for talking so contemptuously of 
that."ffholesome retaliatory measure. I received a very 
saucy and abusive letter from a very large, portly, 
able-bodied gentleman of Yates County, whose corpor- 
ation was much larger, than his intellect. This famous 
epistle raised my dander to a pretty high pitohj and I 
answered his letter in his own style, and concluded by 
saying that if Jefferson would not immediately raise 
his embargo, I should go to work and dig a canal from 
Crooked Lake, to the Conhocton River, and the next he 
would hear of the schooner Sally would be, that she 
had run in, in distress, to Passamaquaddy, or some 
other Northern harbor. This brought our correspond- 
ence to a close. 

I erected a store-house at each end of the lake. 
The vessel and store^houses cost me |1,400. The 
whole,, as it turned out, was a total loss, as the lake 
was frozen over at the time I most wanted to use it. 


The farmers did not then carry their wheat to market 
before winter. 

I had given notes the previous winter to the farmers 
for wheat to the amount of about f 3,000, -pa-yable in 
June following, but after opening ntiy new goods, I took 
in money fast enough to meet the payment of my notes 
when presented, which -established my credit with the 
farmers throughout the Westj far ahd near. There 
was not at that time any other market for wheat, until 
the great canal was finished as far aS Cayuga. Wheat 
was brought to my mill from all parts of Seneca and 
Ontario Counties and the Genesee River. After^ol. 
Troup came into the agency, he authorized me to re- 
ceive wheat from any of the settlers that wished to 
make payments in the land-oSfice, and pay in my drafts 
on the ofiBce for the same. 

Indians were very numerous at that time. Their 
hunting-camps^ were within short distances of each 
other all over the county. The Indian trade was then 
an object. I hired a chief of the name of Kettle-Hoop, 
from Buflfalo, to teach me the Seneca language. He 
spoke good English. All words that related to the 
Indian trade or traffic I wrote down in one colunan, and 
opposite gave the interpretation in, Seneca, and so I 
enlarged my dictionary froto d-ay to day for three or 
four weeks, until I got a pretty good kflowledge of the 
language. I then set out on a trading expedition 
amongst the Indian encampments, and tobk my teacher 
along, who introduced me to bis brethren as seos 
catena, that is, very good nam,. They laughed very 
heartily at my pronui;ioiati6ri. I told them I had a 


great many goods at Tanighnaguandd, that is, Bath. 
I told them to come and see me, and bring all their 
furs, and peltry, and gammon, (that is, hams of deer,) 
and I would buy them all, and pay them in goods very 
cheap. They asked me, Tegoye ezeethgath and 
JVegaughf that is, " Have you rum and wine, or fire- 
water." That fall, in the hun^jng season, I took in an 
immense quantity of furs, peltry and deer hams. Their 
price for gammon, large or small, was two shillings. 
I salted and ■ smoked- that winter about 8,000 hams, 
and sold them next spring in Baltimore and Phila- 
d^Ma for two shillings per pound. At this time there 
was an old bachelor Irishman in Bath, that kept a little 
store or groggery, by the name of Jemmy McDonald, 
who boarded himself, and lived in his pen in about as 
good style as a certain nameless four-legged animal. 
He became very jealous of me after I had secured the 
whole of the Indian trade. The Indians used to com- 
plain of Jamie, and say that he was tos cos, that is, 
not good — too much cheat, Jimmy. When I had com- 
mand of the army at Fort George, in Upper Canada, 
about 600 of these Indians were attached to my com- 

The next spring I started down the rivers Conhocton 
and Canisteo, with a large fleet of arks loaded with 
flour, wheat, pork and otker articles. The embargo 
being in full force, the price of flour and wheat was 
very low. At Havre de Grace I made fast two or three 
arks loaded with wheat to the stern of a small schooner 
which lay anchored in the middle of the stream, about 
half a mile f^-pm shore. Being ebb tide, together with 


the cuiTent of the stream, we could not possibly land 
the arka. Night setting in,' there was no time to be 
lost in getting them to shore, as there was a strong 
wind down the bay, and it would be impossible to save 
them if they should break loose from the schooner. I 
left the arks in charge of William Edwards, of Bath, 
whilst I went on shore to procure help to tow the arks 
to shore. Whilst I was gone the wind increased, and 
the master of the schooner hallooed to Edwards, who 
was in one of the arks, that he would cut loose, as there 
was danger that he would be dragged into the bay and 
get lost, and he raised his axe to cut the cah^s. 
Edwards swore if he cut the cables he would shoot him 
down on the spot, and raising a handspike, took de- 
liberate aim. It being dark; the Captain could not 
distinguifih between a handspike and a rifle. This 
brought him to terms. He dropped the axe, and told 
Edwards that if he would engage that I should pay 
him for his vessel in case she-should be lost, he would 
not cut loose. Edwards pledged himself that I would 
do so. 

When I got on shore, I went to a man named Smith, 
who had a fishery, and a large boat with eighteen oars, 
and about forty Irishmen m his employ, and offered to 
hire his boat and hands. He was drunk, and told me 
with an oath, that I and my arks Jmight "go to the 
d — 1." He would neither let the boat nor his hands 
go. I went into the shanty of the Irishmen, and put- 
ting on an Irish brogue, told them of my distress. 
" The d — 1 take Smith, we will help our countryman, 
by my shoul boys," said their leader. They manned 


the boat, and tkei arks were bromghi- to the shore m 
double-quick time. ■ They refused to; take pay, and I 
took them to a tavern and ordered them as much as 
they chose to drink. My friend Edwards and those 
jolly Irishmen saved my arks and cargo. Edwards is 
yet alive, and resides; in Bath.* . , 

'The loss I sustained, in flour .and= wheat this' year 
was great, but I did not feci it to Beany serious inter- 
ruption to my business. On my return, I concluded 
that I must suspeiid the purchase, of vrheiat while' that 
ruinous measure, the embargo, was in force, and fall 
u^pi some other scheme and project. So I opened a 
large distillery, which' opened a market to the farmers 
for their rye-corn, and even wheat, which I converted 
into " fire-water," as: the Indians very properly call 
it. Jefferson's embargo did not injure the sale of it, 
but the contrary, as whiskey was then worth by the 
barrel from eight to ten shillings per gallon, and all 
men, women, and children drank of it freely in those 
days. I converted much of my w'hiskey into gju, 
brandy, and cordials, in order to suit the palates of 
some of my tippling customers. ' 

. I purchased "in the fall droves of cattle and sent 
them to Philadelphia. I also stall-fed forty head of 
the best and largest cattle in the winter, which I ship- 
ped on arks to Colutiibia, and drove to Philadelphia, 
where they sold to good advantage. This mode of 
sending fat cattle to market astonished the natives as 
we passed down the :rivfef . It proved, to be a profitable 
business. ' ' ;' ■ . 

* He died'in 'March, 1851. 


In the year 1814 I sold my Cold Spring Mills to 
Henry A. Townsend for $14,000. I erected other 
mills at Bath. In 1816 I ran down to Baltimore 
about 1,000,00.0 feet of pine lumber and 100,000 feet 
of cherry boards and curled maple. I chartered three 
brigs and shipped my cherry and. curled maple, and 
500 barrels of flour to Boston. I sold my flour at a 
fair price, but my lumber was a dead weight on my 
bands. At length, the inventor of a machine for spin- 
ning woql by water power, offered to sell me one of his 
machines for $2,500, and take lumber in payment. I 
closed a bargain with him, which induced me to em- 
bark in woolen manufacture. I obtained a loan from 
the state, and was doing well until Congress reduced 
the tariff for the protection of home industry to a mere 
nominal tax. The country immediately after was 
flooded with foreign fabrics, and but few woolen fac- 
tories survived the shock. 

I will now close my narrative so far as it relates to 
my own business concerns, with a single remark, that 
although I have been unfortunate at the close of my 
business, yet I flatter myself that all will admit that 
I have done nothing to rStard the growth and pros- 
perity of the village of Bath, or of the inhabitants 
of Steuben county generally, especially at a time 
when there were no facilities for the farmers of the 
county to transport their produce to market other than 
that which was afforded them by my exertions. And 
whether the people of Steuben or myself have receiv- 
ed the most benefit I leave for them to determine. 
It would appear to be of very little consequence for 


me to state the number of ciyil offices that I held 
during my residence in Steuben county. It will only 
show how far, I had the good will of thd people. First, 
I was appointed Justice of the Peace ; next, a Judge 
of the Court of Common Pleas, and Surrogate of the 
county. In 1816 I was appointed High Sheriff of the 
county, which office I held four years. I ' held the of- 
fice of Post MaStelf of the village of Bath, about 
eight years. The good people of Steuben also felected 
■me three years in succession to represent them'in the 
Legislature of 'the State of New York; — FOr all these 
favors I felt then, and ever shall feel grateful. 

This brief narrative is nothing more than' a mere 
synopsis of some of the principal events ' of my life 
during the last sixty years. I find that all labor, 
whether of the hand or head, havd becoind burthen- 
gome, which will be a sufficient apology for its insuf- 

Note. — Geu. MoCldee, at the age of 64, again started " in pur- 
»mt of the Far West," -which he says " had got a thousand miles 
ahead of me," and located at Elgin, in Ulintas, iwhere he ' resided 
until bia death in the summer of 1851. 


CAPTAIN Williamson's administration — ^life at 




Captain Williamson having, toward the close of the 
last century, fairly established himself at Bath, was the 
greatest man in all the land of the West. His do- 
minion extended from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario ; 
a province of twelve hundred thousand acres owned 
him as its lord ; ,Indian warriors hailed him as a great 
chief; settlements on the Genesee, by the Seneca, and 
at the bays of Ontario, acknowledged him as their 
founder; and furthermore, by commission from the Go- 
vernor of the State of New York, he was styled Colonel 
in the militia of the Commonwealth, and at the head 
of his bold foresters, stood in a posture of defiance be- 
fore the Pro-Consul of Canada, who beheld with indig- 
nation a rival arising in the Genesee forests, and tak- 
ing possession of land which he claimed for his own 
sovereign, with a legjei^dof NewEnglanders and.Penn- 
sylvanians, mighty men with,, the axe and rifle, a,v.4 
with cplonies of Scotch and Irish boys, who cleaved- to 
the rebellious subjects of the King. " 


His was no idle administration. It did not content 
him to sit in idle grandeur in his sumptuous log-for- 
tress on the Conhocton, like a Viceroy of the Back- 
woods, feasting on the roasted sides of mighty stags,. 
and eating luxurious hominy from huge wooden trench- 
ers with the captains of his host.' Neither did he 
yield to those temptations which so often beset and 
overpower governors sent to administer the affairs of 
distant districts of the wilderness, who, instead of col- 
lecting tribute from the refractory aborigines, and keep- 
ing them well hanged, are forever scouring the woods 
with "hounds, and beating the thickets for bears, to the 
great neglect of the royal finances. He galloped 
hither and thither with restless activity-^from Bath 
to Big Tree, from Seneca to Sodus, from Canadarque 
to Gerundigut, managing the concerns of his realm 
with an energy that filled the desert with life and ac- 
tivity. People heard of him afar off — in New England, 
in Virginia, and in Canada. The bankers of Albany 
and New York became familiar with his signature, 
Englishmen and Scotchmen were aroused from \their 
homes and persuaded to cross the ocean for Genesee 
estates, and hearty young emigrants of the better sort 
— ^farmers and mechanics of some substance — were 
met upon their landing by recommendations to leave 
the old settlements behind them, and try their fortunes 
in Williamson's woods. Pioneers froln below pushed 
their canoes and barges up the rivers, and men of the 
East toil6d wearily through the forest with their oxen 
and sledges. Not a few Virginian planters, with their 
great household, abandoned their barren estates be- 


yond the Potomac, and performed marches up the Sus- 
quehanna valley and over the Laurel Ridge in much 
the same style (saving the camels) as the ancient Me- 
sopotamian patriarchs shifted their quarters — young- 
sters and young ladies making the journey gaily on 
horseback, -while the elderly rode in ponderous chaises, 
secured against catastrophes by ropes and props, and 
the shoulders of their negroes. Several such cavalcades 
came over the Lycoming Road. One is yet remem- 
bered with some interest by a few, as containing a pair 
of distinguished belles, whose fame went before them, 
and who were met on their descent, half frozen, from 
the mounta,ins in mid-winter, at the Painted Post Hotel, 
by a couple of no less distinguished sprouts of North- 
ern gentility, one of whom was afterwards so fortunate 
as to gain the hand of one of the frost-bitten beauties. 
The administration of the affairs of the estate be- 
yond the limits of this county, is not, of course, a mat- 
ter to be treated of with propriety in this volume. 
Much of the agent's personal attention was of course 
required in this, but he made his residence at Bath, 
and to life and doings at the metropolis, our attention 
will for the present be directed. 

Captain Williamson dwelt in his stronghold on the 
Conhocton, in high style, like a baron of old. All the 
expenses necessary to support the state which such a 
regent should maintain, were borne by the boundless 
fund which he controlled. Gentlemen from far 
countries came up to the woods on horseback, and 
were entertained sumptuously, as the gallant captain's 
feudal prototypes were wont to welcome to their castlea 


straggling crusaders, pilgrims and foreign knights. 
There was an abundance of gentility in the land, both 
sham and genuine. Sometimes the admiring wood 
nymphs, who had heretofore seen only ill-favored and 
bare-backed pagans striding through the forest, beheld 
a solitary horseman, finely dressed in the most ap- 
proTed fashion of the cities, trotting down the inter- 
minable lane of pines, followed at a respectful distance 
by his servant (a spectacle which this good republican 
county has not seen for many a year), and sometimes 
Captain Williamson himself might be seen dashing in 
gallant style through the woods, with a party of riders 
from the Hudson or the Roanoke, mounted on full 
blooded horses, while a functionary from the baronial 
kitchen brought up the rear, with luncheon and a 
basket of wine. There were, moreover, asses in lions' 
hides, who came down with a great flourish, and passed 
themselves off for real Nubians. A few old settlers 
have occasion to remember one of these gentry, a 
certain captain, " a great big man, and a mighty fine 
gentleman, with ruffles in his shirt, and rings on his 
fingers," who contracted to build Captain Williamson's 
stupendous Marengo barns, and one day went off in a 
portly and magnificent way, without paying his 

The Pine Plains were unable to support such courtly 
personages, and indeed the good stock of working men 
and farmers who tilled the land, found the soil so un- 
gracious, that they were not a little straightened for 
the means of supporting life. Captain Williamson 
transported his first flour from Northumberland, and 


a quantity of pork from Philadelphia. Afterwards 
these luxuries were obtained as best they could be. 
Flour was brought on pack horses from Tioga Point, 
and a treaty of commerce was entered into with Jemima 
Wilkinson, the prophetess, who had established her 
oracle on the outlet of Crooked Lake, where her dis- 
ciples had a mill and good farms. The first navigators 
of Crooked Lake carried their cargoes in Durham 
boats of six or eight tons burden, which they poled 
along the shore, or when favoring breezes filled their 
sails, steered through the mid-channel. These primi- 
tive gondoliers have lived to see the end of their pro- 
fession. Notwithstanding these resources, the village 
of the Plains was sometimes reduced to great straits. 
The Canisteo boy brought over his bag of wheat on a 
horse, threw it down at the door of the agency-house, 
and was paid five silver dollars the bushel. He drove 
his bullock across the hills, slaughtered it at the edge 
of the village, and sold every thing from hoof to horn 
for a shilling the pound. He led over a pack-horse 
laden with grain, paid all expenses, treated, and took 
home eighteen dollars. One old farmer remembers 
paying two dollars and a quarter for a hog's head, 
" and it was half hair at that." " Bath was just like 
San Francisco," says an old settler on the comfortable 
farms of Pleasant Valley, " straw was a shilling a 
bunch, and every thing else in proportion. Money 
was plenty, but they almost starved out. They once 
adjourned court because there was nothing to eat. If 
it hadn't been for the Valley, the Pine Plains would 
have been depopulated. After court had been in 


session two or three days, you would see a black boy 
come down here on a horse, and with a big basket, 
foraging. He would go around to all the farms to get 
bread, meat, eggs, or anything that would stay life. 
Bath was the hungriest place in creation. You could'nt 
trust a leg of mutton to anybody bufthe land-agent." 

The citizens of the county made court week a kind 
of general gathering time, and the larders of Bath 
were sometimes speedily exhausted. The prudent 
juryman before setting out from home, slung over his 
shoulders a bag containing a piece of cold pork, and a 
huge loaf of bread ; for no one knew to what, extre- 
mities the ministers of justice might be reduced. 

Nevertheless the affairs of the metropolis went on 
finely. The county prospered. The river was partially 
relieved of incumbrances ; roads were opened ; bridges 
were built ; farms were cleared. In 1796, or about 
that time, Captain Williamson resorted to sundry bold 
devices to arouse the backward people of the East, and 
to spread the fame of his realm throughout the land. 
Before entering upon those subjects, however, there is 
a martial affair which must by no means be lightly 
passed over — the grand Simcoe War of 1794. The 
memory of this has almost perished. Few of the good 
people know how a high and mighty potentate of the 
North once rose up in wrath against Captain William- 
son, and threatened to come down upon him with the 
King's regiment, to storm his villages, to plant his ar- 
tillery, if necessary, under the ramparts of his strong- 
hold on the Conhocton, and to restore the Pine Plains 
with the rest of Western New York, to the Crown of 



Great Britain. This is really the bloodiest paragraph 
in the annals of Steuben County, and must be carefullj 

In a rather stunning explosion of rhetoric, a certain 
Fourth of July orator thus sounds the prelude to a 
kind of epic anthem, in which he indulges, in view of 
the threatened conflict with the Powers of the Pole. 
" Hark ! what sounds are those which arise from the 
" lowering North ! Lo ! the great Unicorn of Albion 
" begins to moan in" the forests of Canada, and that 
" other red quadruped which rides rampant upon the 
" British shield, begins to growl in an offensive and im- 
" pertinent manner from the bristling ramparts of To- 
ronto. War's mighty organ murmurs in distant 
" caverns, and clouds like black war-elephants, raise 
" their dusky backs out of the waters of Lake On- 
" tario." 

Further , quotations from this sonorous document 
will be refrained from. Humbler imagery will suffice 
to illustrate the passage of arms between Captain 
Williamson and the high and mighty Viceroy of Upper 
Canada. It is not generally known to our citizens 
what an enemy arose against us in our infancy, and 
how the infant settlement, like a sturdy little urchin, 
squared itself in defiance against the veteran bruiser, 
who offered to bully it out of its rights. 

It is well known that although by the treaty of 1783, 
the British agreed to evacuate forthwith all military' 
posts held by thfem within the territory of the United 
States, the forts at Niagara and Oswego were held 
under viarious pretexts until the year 1796. Certain 


-claims of sovereignty over certain lands in Western 
New York, were asserted by British ofiScers, and their 
presence, their influence over the Indians, and- the in- 
trigues of their agents, caused much apprehension and 
annoyance to the settlers. Captain Williamson, as 
we have seen, was interested in a settlement at Sodus. 
On the 16th of August, 1794, Lieut. Sheaffe, a British 
officer, called at that place, " by special commission 
from the Lieutenant Governor of his Britannic Majes- 
ty's province of Upper Canada," and in the abaence of 
Captain Williamson, left a letter for him, demanding 
" by what authority an establishment has been ordered 
at this place, and to require that such a design be im- 
mediately relinquished." 

The pctentate by whom this order was dictated 
was Colonel Simcoe, an officer, who, we believe, 
served with some distinction at the head of a re- 
giment of loyalists in the Revolution, a gentleman 
undoubtedly of ability and discretion, and esteemed 
a good Governor by the Canadians, but one who felt 
sore at the late discomfiture of the Royal arms, and 
who appears to have embraced the delusioa for a long 
time entertained by British officers of the old school, 
of the possibility of marching through America with a 
brigade of grenadiers. The. Duke de la Rochefoucault 
Liancourt, a French traveller, gives us the key to 
Col. Simcoe's character and aspirations. — " He dis- 
" courses with much good sense on all subjects, but his 
" favorite topics are his projects and war, which seem 
** to be the objects of his leading passions. He is ac- 
*' quainted with the military history of all countries. 


" No hillock catches his eye without exciting in hi-s 
" mind the idea of a fort which might be constructed 
" on the spot, and with the construction of this fort he 
" associates the plan of operations for a campaign, es- 
" pecially of that which is to lead him to Philadelphia." 

Col. Simcoe, then, had a professional hobby. He 
looked at banks and bries with the eye of Major Dal- 
getty, and believed that hills were made for castles, 
harbors for forts, and knolls for " sconces." Of Phar- 
salia and Agincourt, of the Retreat of the Ten Thou- 
sand, and the flank movements of Gustavus, of the tac- 
tics of Gideon and the forays of Shi&hak, of battering- 
rams and bomb-shells, of torpedos, catapults, pikes 
and pistols — of such was the conversation of Col. Sim- 
coe. Of marching from Niagara through the wilder- 
ness like a Canadian Hannibal, of routing the back- 
woodsmen and making captive the audacious William- 
son in his stronghold among the mountains, of emerg- 
ing from the forest with drums, clarinets and feathers, 
of riding over the stilpified farmers of Pennsylvania, 
and trailing his victorious cannon through the sti*eets 
of Philadelphia, of hiding the humiliation of Saratoga 
in a blaze of glory, and of generally grinding to pow- 
der the rebellious enemies of the King — of such were 
the dreams of Col. Simcoe. 

As' the first step toward the attainment of these 
magnificent results, the Viceroy of His Britannic Ma- 
jesty stole a barrel of flour. 

How this exploit was performed, — whether the store- 
house was approached after the style of Turenne, and 
the clerk summoned to surrender the key of the pad- 


lock, in the words of the Grand Tujrk at Cpnstanti- 
nople,; whether hoops were respected and stares trea,ted 
considerately, according to the usages of the Black 
Prince and other mirrors of courtesy, we cannot say, 
though the Governor undoubtedly overhauled his libra- 
ry and reviewed RoUin's History before he, attempted 
a manoeuvre which was probably without a precedent 
in the "military history of all nations." The particu- 
lars of this fell swoop of the Canadian war-kite do not 
appear in the few books hastily consulted on that sub- 
ject, — loftier matters, the evacuation of forts, the 
movements of emissaries, and the correspondence of 
functionaries, being solely discoursed of in those. Old 
settlers, however, aver that a quantity of flour belong- 
ing to Capt. Williamson was seized by the British and 
carried off. 

Capt. Williamson resented the affront in a spirited 
manner. A, sharp correspondence followed between 
himself and the trespassing parties. The cabinet at 
Washington took the matter in hand. The prospect 
looked, to the men in the forest, depidedly warlike. 
The "black war elephants," which the orator saw 
rising put of the billows, of Ontario, it mayT^e believed, 
shook their bright, and glittering tusks with evil pur- 
port, while those other surly quadrupeds which dis- 
played themselves in , such an ill-tempered manner on 
the " bristling ramparts of Toronto," undoubtedly in- 
dulged in demonstrations equally, hostile and alarming. 
Captain Williamson had reason to belie'<'e that in the 
event of aiCtual hostilities, thp vengeance of Cpl. Sini- 
coe might seek him in .his own city. He deterajiined 


to make ready for the blow, to rally the woodsmen, to 
picket the public square, and to entertain, the Canadian 
H^annibal and his legions with such a feast of smoke, 
steel, and sulphur, as those fire-eaters alone could re- 
lish. " 

Gen. McClure in his manuscript si>.ys, " The ad- 
ministr£(,tion at Washington apprised Capt. William- 
son of the difficulties that had arisen between this 
country and Great Britain, and required him to make 
preparations for defence. He therefore received a 
Colonel's commission from the Governor of New York, 
and immediately thereafter sent an express to Albany 
for one thousand stq,nd of arms, several pieces of can- 
non and munitions of war. He lost no time in making 
preparations for war. He gave orders to my friend 
Andrew Smith to prepare timber for picketing on a 
certain part of our village and ordered that I should 
erect block-houses according to his plan. The work 
went cheerily on. We could rally, in case of alarm, 
five or six hundred, most of them single men. Our 
Colonel organized his forces into companies. I had 
the honor of being appointed Captain of a light infantry 
company, and had the privilege of selecting one hun- 
dred men, non-commisioned ofBcera and privates. In 
a short time my company appealed in handsome uni- 
form. By the instructions of our Colonel we mounted 
guard every night, — exterior as well as interior. Most 
of our own Indians, whom we supposed were friendly, 
disappeared, which we thought was a very suspicious 
circumstance."* , 

* Mr. Henry McElwee, of Mud Creek, was employed by Col. W. 



The young settleii'^Ht, like the infant hero of old, 
seemed likely to be attacked in its cradle by a serpent ; 
and although the backwoodsmen, even of Canisteo, 
were too considerate to strangle the British Empire 
a.ggressively, and without an act of Congress author- 
izing such violence, yet it is quite apparent that had 
■this great power seen fit to assail Col. Williamson's 
little province, the consequences would have bfeeri dis- 
astrous either to the one or the other. Every thing 
was made ready. Further movements of those " black 
>war-elephants " and the rest of the hostile menagerie 
were awaited with interest. How soon will the snort- 
ing charger of Simcoe prance upon the banks - of the 
terrified Conhocton, while his gloomy grenadiers stride 
through the forest with fixed bayonets and frowns. 
How soon will the flags of St. George flaunt under the 
Eight-mile Tree, or field pieces roar under our splin- 
tering palisades, while all the Six Nations, yelling in 
tlie under-brush, drive the wolves distracted. The 
apprehension of invasion was probably not very alarm- 
ing, yet sufficiently so to excite patriotism and visions. 
The lonely settler, sleeping in his cabin far in the fo- 
rest, the loaded rifle standing at his bed side, the watch- 
ful hounds growling without, dream that his house is 
assailed by seventy or eighty Esquimaux, painted like 
rainbows, and led on by George the Third in person, 
while Lord Cornwallis supports bis sovereign with a 
ninety-gun ship and a bomb-ketch. 

to cut white oak saplings eighteen feet long and eighteen inches 
thick at the butt, to be used for palisades, in enclosing the Pulteney 
Square. A great many of these were cut and peeled ready for use, 


All stand waiting for the dogs of war. , *' The soU- 
" tary express-rider now gallops thi'ough' the streets of 
"Northumberland, clatters along th^e rocky roads, 
" wheels up the Lycoming, climbs the Laurel Bridge 
" and urges his stumbling horse over the rugged Ger- 
" man path, descends to the Tioga, hurries along the 
" rivers, and, riding at night into the guarded citadel 
" of , the Conhocten, declares tidings of peace. The 
" lion, grumbling noi longer on the ramparts of To- 
" ronto, lies down in his lair ; the pacified unicorn 
" ceases to stamp upon the Canadian soil, a,nd the 
" black war-elephants haul in their horns, and sink 
" behind the northern horizon." Such is the perora- 
tion of the Fourth of July Orator. 

In 1T96, Col. Williamson, by way of blowing a 
trumpet in the wilderness, advertised to all North 
America and the, adjacent islands, that grand races 
would be held at Bath. At the distance of half a, mile 
from the village, a race-course of a mile in circuit was 
cleared and carefully grabbed, and all the. resources of 
the metropolis were brought; forth for the entertain- 
ment of as many gentlemen of distinction and miscel- 
laneous, strangers as might honor the festival by; their 
presence. , But whftt probability was there that such a 
. festival with success in the midst of 
" a wilderness of nine hundr^ji t^piusand acres'?" From 
Niagara to the Mohawk were but a few hundred ^scat- 
tered cabins, and in, the south a dozen ragged . settle- 
ments, contained the greater part of; the civilized popu- 
lation till you reached Wyoming. But Col. William- 
son did not mistake the spirit; of the times. Those 


were the days of high thoughts and great deeds. On 
the day, aud at the place appointed for the race in the 
proclamation, sportsmen from New York, Philadelphia 
and Baltimore were in attendance. The high blades 
of Virginia and Maryland, the fast-boys of Jersey, the 
wisie jockeys of Long Island, men of Ontario^ Pennsyl- 
vania and Canada, settlers, choppers, gamesters and 
hunters, to the number of fifteen hundred or two 
thousand, met on the Pine Plains to see horses run — 
a number as great, considering the condition of the 
region where they met, as now assembles at State Fairs 
and Mass Meetings. No express-trains then rolled 
down from Shawangunk — no steamboats plowed the 
lakes — no stages rattled along the rocky roads above 
the Susquehanna. Men of blood and spirit made the 
journey from the Potomac and the Hudson on horse- 
back, supported by the high spirit of the ancients to 
endure the miseries of blind trails and log taverns. 

The races passed off brilliantly. Col. Williamson 
himself, a Sportsman of spirit and discretion, entered 
a Southern mare, named Virginia Nell ; High Sheriff 
Dunn entered Silk Stocking, a New Jersey horse — 
quadrupeds of renown even to the present day. Money 
was plenty, and betting lively. The lidies of the two 
dignitaries who owned the rival animals, bet each 
three hundred dollars and a pipe of wine on the horses 
of their lords, or, as otherwise relarted, p6ured seven 
hundred dollars into the apron of a third lady who was 
stake-holder. Silk Stocking was victorious. 

This, our most ancient fe'stival, is rather picturesque, 
seen from the present day. The arena opened in the 


forest, thepijies and the mountain around — the varie- 
gated multitude of ^yild men, tame men, rough men 
and gentlemen, forni a picture of our early life worthy 
of preservation. Canisteo was there, of course, in high 
spirits, and thj-oughout the season, \v:ith self-sacrificing 
devotion to the ancient, honorable and patriotic diver- 
sion of horse-racing, seconded, with voice and arm, 
every effort of Baron Williamson to entertain the 
country's distinguished guests. Young Canisteo went 
away with mind inflamed by the spirited spectacle, and 
before long introduced a higher grade of sport into 
their own valley. A pioneer of that region, known to 
the ancients as a youth of game and a " tamer of 
horses," will, at the present day, talk with great satis- 
faction of a Jersey horse, which not only bore away 
the palm in the Cai^isteo Races, but on the Pine PlainSy 
in the presence of men from Washington, Philadelphia 
and New York^ (fifteen hundred dollars being staked 
on the spot by the strangers,) distanced the horse of a 
renowned Virginia Captain, who, being a " perfect 
gentleman," invited the owner of the victorious beast 
and his friends to dinner, and swore that nothing was 
ever done more handsomely even in the ancient domi- 
nion. Bath and the neighborhood was, in those days, 
the residence of a sagacious and enterprising race of 
sportsmen. They not only raised the Olympic dust 
freely at home, but made excursions to foreign arenas, 
sometimes discomfiting the aliens, and sometimes, it 
must be confessed, returning with confusion of face. 
It is told how a select party of gentlemen — Judges, 
Generals and Captains — once went down to Ontario 


County *' to beat the North ;" how, after the horses 
had been entieted, an Indian came up and asked per- 
mission to enter a sorry-nag which he brought with 
iiim, which with some jeering was granted ; how, to 
the general astonishment^ the pagan's quadruped flew 
off with a " little Indian boy sticking to his back like 
a bat," and led the crowd by a dozen rods. The ju- 
dicial and niilitary gentlemen straightway set out for 
home, each \f ith an insect in his ear. The great race- 
course was not often used, during Williamson's time, 
for the purpose for which it was made^ after the first 
:grand festival. It was chiefly valuable as a public 
■drive for the few citizens who were so prosperous as to 
keep chaises. There was, however, a course on the 
Land Office Meadows south of the village, which was 
at'difierent times the scene of sport. 

Colonel Williamson further embellished the back- 
woods with a theatre. The building, which was of 
logs, stood at the corner of Steuben and Morris streets. 
A troop of actors from Philadelphia, kept we believe, 
at the expense of the agents, entertained for a time 
the resident and foreign gentry with dramatic exhibi- 
tion of great splendor. Of these exhibitions We have 
no very distinct account, but the public eye was pro- 
bably dazzled by Tartars, Highlanders, Spaniards, 
Brigands, and other suspicious favorites of the Tragic 
Muse. The excellencies of the legitimate drama seem 
to have been harmoniously blended with those of the 
circus, and with the exploits of sorcery. We hear of one 
gifted genius who astonished the frontiers; by balancing 
a row of three tobacco pipes on his chin, and by other 


mysterious feats which showed hifli to be clearly ia 
league with the psychologists. 

The race course and the theatre brought the village 
which they adorned into bad odor with the sober and 
discreet. Without intending to speak of such institu- 
tions with more civility than is their due, we maintain 
that in the present case they brought upon the neigh- 
borhood where they existed, and upon the men who 
sustained them, more reproach than they merited. 
The theatrical exhibitions were but harmless absurd 
affairs at worst. The races were perhaps more annoy- 
ing evils. People are certainly at liberty to think as 
badly of them as they please, but they should con- 
sider the spirit of the times, the military and Europe- 
, an predilections of their founder, and also his object 
in their institution (which of course does not of itself 
change the moral aspect of the matter.) Colonel 
Williamson was inclined to hurry civilization. The 
" star of empire" was too slow a planet for him. He 
wished to kindle a torch in the darkness, to blow a. 
horn in the mountains, to shake a banner from the 
towers, that men riiight be led by these singular phe- 
nomena to visit his establishment in the wilderness. 
Therefore, jockeys were switching around the mea- 
dows before the land was insured against starvation, and 
Richard was calling for " another horse" before the 
county grew oats enough to bait him. 

Notwithstanding the extenuatihg 'circumstances, Ba- 
ron WilliamsOn^s village bore a very undesirable repu- 
tation abroad^a reputation as of some riotous and 
extravagant youngster, who had been driven as a 


hopeless profligat«j f rom his father's house, and in a 
wild freak built him a shanty ;in the wopds,; where he 
could whoop and fire pistols, drink, svyear, fightj- and 
blow horns without disturbing his mother and sisters. 
This was in a great measure unjust. The main em- 
ployment of thff town was hard ■syork. " He couldn't 
bear,to ha,ye a lazy drunken fellow around him," says 
an old settler speaking of the agent, " and if any such 
came he sent him away." The men of the new country 
were rough and boisterous it is true, but also industri- 
ous and hardy, and out of such we " constitute a 
State." It has often been flung into our faces as a 
reproach, that when the first missionary visited Bath, 
on a Sunday morning, he found a multitude assembled 
on the public square in three distinct groups. On one 
side the people were gambling, on another they were 
witne^ing a battle between two bulls, and on a 
third they were watching a fight between two bul- 
lies. We are happy to say that the truth of this ras- 
cally old tradition is more than doubtful. Aside from 
the manifest improbability that men would play cards 
while bulls were fighting, or that bulls would be trumps 
while men were fighting, the evidence adduced in sup- 
port of the legend is vague and malicious. To sup- 
pose that Colonel Williamson's ambition was to b© 
at the head of a gang of banditti who blew horns, 
pounded drums, fought bulls and drank whiskey from 
Christmas to the Fourth of July, and from the Fourth 
_ of July around to Christmas again, is an exercise of 
the rights of individual judgment in which those who 
indulge themselves should not of course be disturbed. 


It may be true that sometimes, indeed often, a horn 
or horns may have been blown upon the Pulteney 
Square, at unseasonable hours of the night, in 'a man- 
ner not in accordance with the maxims of the most 
distingmshed composers ; it is not impossible that a 
drum or drums may have been pbiinded with more vig- 
or than judgment at times when the safety of the re- 
public, either from foreign foes or from internal sedi- 
tions, did not demand such an expression of military 
fervor ; it will not be confidently denied by the cau- 
tio'us historian that once or twice, or eveh three times, 
a large number of republicans may have assembled 
on the village common to witness a battle betweten a 
red bull and a black one : bat from these cheferftil frfe- 
ulitions of popular humor, to jump to the conclusion 
that the public mind was entirely devoted to horns, 
drums and bulls, is a logical gymnatic worthy of a 

These aspersions upon the character of the early 
settlers as men of' honor and sobriety, are repelled 
with much sharpness by the few survivors. " We 
were poor and rough," say they, " but we were hon- 
est. We Jit ATii drinked some to be sure, but no moi-e 
than everybody did ihthose days." 

";The man that says We were liars and drunkards, 
is a liar himself, and tell him so from me, will you 1 
There isn't half the honesty in the land nOw that there 
vi^as then. Oh ! what miserable rogues you are now. 
You put locks on your doors, and you k6ep bull dogs, 
and then you can't keep the thieves out of your houses 
after all!" i ^ • , ; ' 


" I have seen them do in Bath what ye wouldn't dp 
the morrow. When a pack-horse with flour came from 
Pang Yang or Tip^aPint, I have seen, the ladies carry 
it, around to them that hadn't any. Many and many's 

the time I have seen the M 's and'theC-' — r-'sand 

their daughters take plates of flour and carry them 
around tq every cabin where they were needy. I have 
seen it often, and ye wouldn't do the same at Bath the 

In like manner on the 'Canisteo, you hear — -" People 
now, friend, ain't a. comparison to those Ingens. They 
were simple, creatures, and made their little lodges 
around by the hills, three hundred Ingens at a tim«, 
and never stole a thing. , Those Ingens came to our 
houses, and were around nights, and never stole the 
first rag. Now, that's the truth, friend. They would 
snap off a pumpkin now and then perhaps, or take an 
ear of corn to roast, but they were just the simplest 
and most honest creatures I ever see. But now. Lord ! 
you can't hang up a shirt to dry but it will be stolen." 

Occasionally there is an expression of contempt at 
the;decay of chivalry. " There' was men enough then 
that would, have knocked a fellow down if he said Boo. 
It isn't half an afiront now to qall a man a liar or a 
rascal. If you whip an impudent dog of a fellow, you 
^et indipted." 

Captain Wiiliamson further astonished the bapk- 
TTpods with a newspaper. In 1796,- the Bath Gazette 
andr Genesee Advertiser was published by Wm. Ker- 
sey ,and James Eddie. This was the earliest newspaper 
of Western New York, — the Ontario Gazette, of Ge- 


neva, established in the same yeat, being the second. 
We have not had the good fortune to find a o6py of 
this ancient sheet. Capt. Williamson, in 1798, said,' 
" The printer of the Ontario Gazette disperses weekly 
not less than one thousand papers, and the printer of 
,the Bath Gazette from four to five hundred." H«w 
long the latter artisan cantinued to disperse his fire 
hundred papers we are unable to say. The candle' 
was probably a " brief " one, and soon burned out, 
leaving the land in total darkness, till Capt. Smead's 
Democratic Torch, twenty years afterwards, illuminated 
the whole county, and even flashed light into the ob- 
scure hollows of Allegany. Of this happy event we 
may take the present opportunity to speak. 

In 1816, Mr. David Rumsey published at Bath the 
" Farmers' Gazette," and Capt. Benjamin Smead 
started at the same place the " Steuben and Allegany 
Patriot." This sheet is the moat unquestionable an- 
tiquity which the County has produced. Though but 
thirty-five years have elapsed since Capt. Smead 
opened his republican fire on the enemies of human 
rights, (a fire which never so much as slackened for 
more than a quarter of a century,) such have been the 
improvements in the art of printing that in comparison 
with the bright, clean country newspapers of 1851, the 
Patriot looks rusty enough to have been the Court 
Journal of that ancient monarch. King Cole, if it were 
lawful to suppose that the editor would ever have con- 
sented to manage the " administration organ " of such 
a rampant old aristocrat. The Patriot differed in 
-several important particulars from our modern county 


papery-, Geneva, Olean, and Pansville advertisements 
■were important features. The editorial matter was 
brief, and tte first page was occupied with advertise- 
ments of sheriff's sales and; the like, instead, of such 
"thrilling, thousand dollar prize tales " as " The Black 
Burglar of Bulgaria, or the Bibliomaniac of the 
Jungles," and others of like, character, which in our 
modern home newspapers sometimes crQVfd off even the 
Treasury Report and elegant extracts from the leading 
journals. The columns devoted to news would poorly 
satisfy the demand of the present generation. We 
think the news cold if forty-eight hours old, but then 
tidings from New York in ten days almost smoked, 
and Washington items two weeks old were fairly scald- 
ing. The political matter was also of an ancient tone. 
The^e was a little, sparring between Observer and 
Quietvs on the one hand, and some invisible enemy on 
the other who dealt his blows under cover of the On- 
tario Messenger. The antiquarian of nice ear will also 
detect antiquity in the rythm of caucus resolutions- 
It is comforting to the patriotic icitizen to think how 
much cheaper eloquence, is now than formerly : how 
much easier one can strike the stars with his lofty head 
from the Buffalo platform, th* Philadelphia platform, 
or the Baltimore platform, than from the Bucktail 
platform and other old-fashioned scaffolds. The style 
of abuse which prevails at present in school-house con- 
ventions is inclined to be rolling and magnificent ; in 
the days of the o\<Sl Patriot it was direct and well 
planted, straight, short, and distinct. 
It appears that even then there was a brisk agita- 


tion about the divisio'n of the County. Steuben was like 
Poland in the dutches of 'the Three Powers. Three 
" rogues in buckrain let drive " at It, — Penn Ya!n in 
fronts and Tioga and Alleganyin'the flanks; and like 
a man beset with thievfe's, the stout old County" backed 
against the Pennsylvanian border a,nd " dealt " by the 
Patriot Very ejBBciently. "' '"""' '''-'"' ' 

In the Patriot of Jkii. 19, 1819, occurs' the following 
proclaniatibnindicative of thespint ofthe times during 
court week. ' ' '■ - 

GfRAND hL'Kt.- 

, Ai Jlunting Paj^ty will, be, formed for the purpose of 
killing wolves, bears, fpxes, panthers, &c., to, commence 
on the 20th of January, at !?• o?cloek'A. M., and will 
close the same day at 8 P. M.> ■ , ■ 

Ihis beingthe week of, the sitting of ifchejcourt, gen- 
tlemen from towns of this vicinity are invited to meet 
at Capt. Bull's Hotel at *? o?clock, on Friday the 15th 
inst., to aid in completing arrangements i-of conducting 
the grand hunt. '..:'.:. 
Bath, Jan. 12,1819. . 

1 Capt. Howell Bullj 

Appointed Commanding Officer of the day." 


The year 1796 is furthermore a memorable one in 

our annals, for that in the said year was organized that 

•wrangling brotherhood, the Steuben County Bar. A 

few straggling birds of the legal feather had aliglited 



on the Pii^e Plains in the preceding year, biM; were not 
recognized as constituting a distinct , and independenjt 
confedieracy. These adventurous .eagles however found 
themselves in 1796 released from allegiiance to thp 
Ontario Bar by the act organizing Steuben County, 
and thenceforth confederated for the iftpre systemjatic 
indulgence of their instincts, under the nam^ and 
style of the Steuhen County Bqiy 

A framed court house, and a jail of he'^n logs was 
erected for the furtherance of justice, and in thpfoEEfvej: 
of these edifices the first Court of Common Pleas, held 
in and for the County of Steuben,, convened on the 21st 
day of June, 1796. 

' The Honorable William Kersey was the presiding 
Judge.' Judge Kersey was a grave and digtiifieS 
Friend from Philadelphia. He came to Steuben as a 
surveyor, and practised • that professioH, and perfoi-med 
the- duties of Lord High Chancellor of the county for 
several years, when he returned to Pennsylvania, 
greatly f esteemed by the people whoin he judged'. 
Abraham Bradley, and Eleazer Lindley, Esqs., of 
Painted Post, were the Associate Judges^ 

"Proclamation made, and cotirt opened,''' says 'the 
record. " Proclamation made for silence; commis- 
sions to the i Judges, Justices, SherifiF, Coroner and 
Surrogate read ; George Hornell, Uriah Stephens and 
Abel White were qualified as Justices of the Peace; 
Stephen Ross as Surrogate.'^ ,., 

The following attorneys an^ counsellors appeared in 
due form. Nathaniel W. Howell, (late of Canandai- 
gua,) .V'incent Matthews, (late of Rocbester,) William 


Stuart, (who jjresented '* letters- patent under the 
great Seat of this Stat6',' constituting Rim Assistant 
Attorney General^ [DifetHct Attorney,] for the 6ofalil^ 
of Onondaga, Ontario, Tioga and Stdribfen^") \Vm.- 
B. Verpiahck, Da'^id'johes,Pel66t'MaSfeftdfti 'Thomas 
Itforris, 'Stepheri Ross, DaridPowers. ' 

The first Court of General Sessiote'Tfas held irf 
IT96. In addition tb'the Jadgfes' mentioned in the 
Rec'oifd bf the Common' 'Pleas, offenders against the 
p^opl^ ehcountei''ed"the following ai'fa'y'of Justidfe'^ of 
the Peaee.' John Kn&Xj WilYi'Aiai iJ&e,' Frederick 
Bartles, 'ei^^erp^' ftofnellj EU Mead,- Ab^l White, 
Uriaii'Ste^yils, Ji*. 

• The^ first Grand Jury was composed of the following 
citkeas : — John Sheather, Foreman ; Chajjles CamCTOii, 
George McClirrej Jdhn Cooper, Satauel Miller, Isaac 
MuUexider, John Stearns,- Justus Woolcott, John 
Coudify, John Van De*hbiit*V* -A-i^ander FuUettofl, 
AtaSriah Hailniadiid, John Se^lj*, - Samuel Shannon. 
This' jury jrfesented two indi^etments for assault and 
battery, and WeTe^;hereupfiin discharged^ 

G^mei'siil MriGlufe iriakes of the early niembeirs of 
the bar the following ii6tice. " T 'will' mentioil as a 
very extraordinary circumstance, 't&'d.t although our 
new settlement consisted --of eiifi^rants fro'ni jtlmost all 
nations, kittdrM ahdtohgueS^' yet not k Single' gentle- 
men of thiS' leg^ul- prdfessibn ■ made' his "'ap^earaflce 
aiiiotfgst us darittgf^^- first 'two ''year^J' However, had 
t%*^ come, we"hal?f hb* riiueh enipldynient f* them in 
tiiei^ line of })u)^irt*s-, as'all our Mgk^itffis were settlecl 
by compromisS, or by the old English law of battle, 


and all defiisions were fipal. In our cod.e there was 
no appellant; jurisdiction. In^the |bljpwing year, -we 
ba(i|.a,;full supply,, phqrtly after the; organization of 
Stei;J)^n' Co^jnty. [; ,, f . ' ' 

. .^^he j'fir^tarriyal was George D. Cooper, of Rbinej- 
beck, on the North. River. He was appointed ^the fir^t 
Qlerjc.qf thf, Coijnty.,. The next arrivals were Messrs. 
Jones, Mas^erton ai;d Sl^art, frpm New Yprk^ Next- 
Williajn^flpwe Cuykr, frouj Albany, Mr. Puylp:q was 
a .fine. ' portly .ei^gant young man of.very fashionablef 
and fascinating manners, of the , Chesterfield order. In: 
1812i/General Amos Hall appointed; him aid^de-camp, 
and while stationed at Black Rock he wa« , killed, fey-ia 
capnon balL:from Fort Erie. Major Cuyler was a very 
active ; intelligent officer, and his death was much la- 
mented. . He left a young wife and one ison. 

Next in order came.Dominick-Theophilus Blake, 
one of the sons of Erm-g^o-Sra^A- , He was a well 
ediacatied young man, 'but his dialect aadl manner of 
speech afibrd^d much, amusement fpr^tlie other mem- 
bers of the bar. He had but, little practice and did 
not remain long .with, ps, but WiherC; he went and wjiat 
becameof him,:I,ncver hay.eheard.;,, ,ii 1 ■ ■: 

- I Samuel S. Haight, Esq., moved f^om Newtown wi-th, 
his family tP Bath. Gen. Haight ,ha,d an extensive- 
practice, and a numerous and intej^eatiijg family of 
sons and. dftug^ersl. ..He is yet livi<;g, and resides in- 
the county ofi Allegany. Daniel Crpge?-, William B. 
Rochester, .Willisim Woods, Henry Welles and Henry. 
W,i:Rog^i:s, ,piembers pf the. ,3tenl)ieni County j Batf> 


ifeudied law in Mr, Haight^s office. Edward' Hc^well, 
Esqi, of'fidthjistudied la^ in (utett. Oi-uget's-'otf^ei 
'"'Gen'. Vincent 'Matthews resided for" inalriy fitsts in 
Bath.- He "waS ^aid to b^ at the head' of the bar for 
legal knowledge, but was not mtich of an advo'caie. 
Judge Edwards, SoHuyler Strong, Jotas Olark, Jona- 
than Haighl!, John Oook^, and Leland and McMaSter, 
ate all tharfrl can ffemeiibeir of the old stock. Ah, jem 
there's one more of ifij old fr5ends--Ctttiib€rb Harri- 
son, a Virginian, ayoung'man of good sense, arfd'whe- 
thei drunk or sober, -he' was a good aafured clever 
f«llow." ■■ 

Mi?. Cuthbert Harrison is described as a young man 
of fiae talents', and obe tffth^ tndst eloqnetltadtdfc£tt6s' 
id the ^4st6rn pajrt of the State. ' ' 

Gen. DamferCtuger^^foralong time a leading metrt- 
ber of the bait" And 'an influential politician, Wa.s a 
printer by tifade'. He worked in the office of the bid 
Bath Gazette, before the year 1800. Afterwards he 
published a newspaper in Owego. Adopting the legal 
profession, he practised with success at Bath. In 
1712, he was elected a member of the Legislature, and 
chosen Speaker of the House. After this he was 
chosen representative in the same body for three suc- 
cessive years. In 1813, he served with credit as Major 
of Infantry, under Gen. McClure, on the frontiers. 
In 1816, he was elected Member of Congress. In 1823, 
or about that time, he was again sent to the Legisla- 
ture. He afterwards removed to Syracuse, returned 
to Bath, and in 1833, removed to Virginia, where he 
continued in the practice of the law until his death, in 


184^.! Gen. ;Cruger, under the judioi^l system of 
New 'S^prkj'iiva? lOnce Assist»Bit : Attprney General,, oi? 
District Attprney, of the district eomposed of , the 
counties „(>f Allegany, Steuben, Tioga, Braome. and 
otiiers.; After the ,a.feolition of tbjs system, he was 
Distitic.t Attorney of the county. of Steuben., '-'- 

Of :the early Physician's, of the county, we have not 
much. fio say,,, • Dr. Stpckton, of New Jersey, and Dr. 
Schultz, , a German; came in with.Capt. Williamson, 
and wfre the most prominent pf the pioneer physicians. 
Th,e Bufgepn, in ancient times^ lived.a rough :life. His 
ride was thrpugh forests without roads, acrpss rivers^ 
with-put, bridges, over bills withot^t habitations. : Bears 
ros.e up ib/efpre, his gtarJil-ed , steed as ' ,he rpde at ^ask - 
thrpugh the beechengrevesofthe uplands,, and wolves,; 
m^dc! visible by the lightning,;hung aromndihim as he 
groped through the hemlocks -in the midnight stprm, 
and insanely lusteji for the content^ of his saddle-bags. 



The settlement in that well known prolongation of 
the feed of Crooked Lake, famed as Pleasant Valley, 
was the first made under the auspices of Captain Wil- 
liamson, and wasfdr many years the most prosperous 
and one of the most important in the county. The 
soil was exceedingly productive, and yielded not only 
an abundance for the settlers, but furnished much of 
the food by which the inhabitants of the hungry Pine 
Plains were saved from starvation. For the i young 
settlers in various parts of the county, the employment 
afforded by the bountiful fields of 'the valley during 
haying sand harvest, was for many years an important 
assistance. ; Jm the midst of pitiless hills and forefets 
tha!t 1 clung to their treasures like misers, Pleasant 
Valley was generous and free-handed — yielding -fj^iit, 
grain andi|rass'witb>maJve}loHS:!prodigality. ■ ''■■■■: 
" Th&'fi-r'sti settlers of Pleasant Vallerty were William 
Aulls and Samuel Baker. Mr. Aulls, previous to the 
year-1793, was living in the Soathern part of Penn- 
sylvania. In the spring of- 1T93, :he made thfe-ficst 
clearing and built the first house in the valley.- In 



the autumn of the same year he brought up his family. 
The house which he built stood on the farm now occu- 
pied by John Powers, Esq. 

Samuel Baker was a native of Bradford County, in 
Connecticut. When ^5, years of, age, he was taken 
prisoner by a party of Burgoyne's Indians, and re- 
niji^ij^(l|,with,tl^e.Britia^ army iii captivity till jgl^eved 
by the Surrender at Saratoga. After this event he 
enlisted, /ia Col. Willett's ;Oorps, , and was engaged in 
the pursuit and skirmish at Canada Creek, in which 
Captain Walter ^Butler^ (a. brother to the noted- Col. 
John :Butler,) a trenbfesome leader of ihe. Tories iA thfe 
border wars i)£ this State, was shot and tomahai^ked 
by the: Oireidasi. ^^ the spring, of 1787, he went alone 
into the West, passed uipithe Tioga, and btiilfca cabin: 
on th^ open flat between the Tioga and Goweaisque, 
at their jiindtion. He was the first settler in the valley 
of the Tioga. Harris, the trader, was at the Painted 
Post, and. his 3ext neighbor was Col. Handy >. on the 
Chemung, below Big Flats'. Of beasts, he bad. but a 
cow, of "• plunder," the few trifliiig. articles thai would 
sufiSce forlan.Arab or an Arapafbo; but like. a trae son. 
of Connecticut, he readifymanaged to live throughthe 
summetj pfem ted with a hoe a patch of corn on the' 
flaifrSj and raised fti goo«l crop. Before autumn be was 
joined by Captain Amos Stone, a kind of Hungarian 
exile. .Captain Stone had been but in " Shay'a Wttir," 
and dreading (the vengeia'nce. of the government, h6 
sowght an asylum under the southern shadoyj' of Steu- 
ben Gdiinty, where the wrldserness was two bundrfed 
miles de^Pv ^^^ where th6 Marahtkl Would not care to 


venture, even ■when backed by the great seal of the 
RepublicL. On Christmas day of 1786, Mr. Baker 
leaving -Captain Stone in his cabin, went down the 
Tioga on the ice to Newtown as previously mentioned,* 
and thence to. Hudson, where Jiis family was living. 
At the-fopenibg of the rivers in the spring, he took his 
family down the Susquehanna to Tioga Point in a 
canoe. A great freshet prevented him from moving 
up' {he Chemung for many days, and leaving his family, 
he' struck across the hills to see bowhis friend Captain 
Stone f^ired. On reaching the bank of the river oppo- 
site his cabin, not,ia human being was to be seen, ex- 
cept an Indian ppunding corn in a, Samp-mortar. Mr. 
Baker, supposed that his friend had been murdered by 
the savages, and he,, lay in the bushes an hour or., tWvO 
to watch:the movements of the red. miller, who proved, 
after all, to be only a very good-natured sort of a Man- 
Friday, for at length the Captain came along driving 
the cow by the bank of the riyer. Mr. Baker hailed 
him, and. he sprang into the air with delight. Cap- 
tain Stone had passed the.winter without seeing a 
white man. ; His Man^Friday stopped thumping at 
the Samp-mortar, and the party had arvery agreeajile 
re-union. , 

Mr. Baker, brought his family up from Tioga Point, 
and lived he^ie .six years. ^ During that time the pion- 
eer adyancp;had penetra|;^d the region of which the 
lower fioga Valley is a memberi ; A.. fe.w, settlers had 
established themselves on the valley below them, and 

* CU^ptcr 2.. ' ,,,,, ,,, 


around the Painted Post were gathered a few cabins 
where now are ihe termini oil railroads — the gate' of ^ 
coal and lumber trade, bridges, mills and machinery. 
Elsewhere all'was wilderness. The region,, howeyef, 
had been partially ekploired by surveyors and'hunters. 
Benjamin Patterson, while employed as hunter for a 
party -of surveyoi-s, discovered the deep and beautiful 
valley! which extends from the Crooked Lake to the 
Oonhocton. Seen from the brink of the uplands, there 
is hardly a more picturesque landscape in the county, 
or one which partakes more strongly of the character 
of mountain scenery. The abrupt wooded wall on 
either side, the ravines' occasionally opening t{i6 flank 
of the hills, the curving valley that slo'pesto the lake 
on on6 hand, and meets the blu6 Conhocton range on 
the othet, fbriQ at this day a pleasing picture. But 
to the hunter,' leaning on his rifle above the sudden 
declivity — before the country had been disfigured T^ith 
a patchwork of farms arid forest — the bed of the val- 
ley was like a river of trees, and the gulf, from which 
now rise the deadly valors of a steath sawmill, seemed 
like- a creek td ^bui- its tributary tiinber into the 
btoader gorge b'elow.'* 

In his wanderings the hunter occasionally stopped 
at the Cabins of Tioga, and brought report of this fine 
valley. Mr. Baker did not hold a satisfactory title to 
his Pennsylviiriia fafm',^ and was inclined to emigrate. 
Capt. Williafittsori visited his house in 1792, (pl-obably 

* This view, and tlie prospects from the South Hill of Batli, and 
the summit of the Turnpike between Howard Flatts and Hbrnells- 
TiUe, are among the finest in the county. 


while exploring tke Lycoming Road,) and' promised 
him a farm of any shape, or 3i?e, (land in New York, 
previous to this, could only be bought by the town- 
ship,) wherever he should Mr. Baker ac- 
cordingly selected a farm of some three hundr.ed acres 
in Pleasant Valley — ^built a, house upon it in the au- 
tumn of 1793> and in the following spring removed his 
family from the Tioga, He resided here till his death 
in 1842, at the age of 80. He was several years As- 
sociate and First Judge of the County Court. Judge 
Baker was a man of a strong practical mind, and of 
correct and sagacious observation. 

Before 1795, the whole valley was occupied. Be- 
ginning with;, Judge Baker's farm, the next farm 
towards the lakei was odcuspied by Capt. Amos StOne, 
the next by William AuUs, the next by Epbraim 
Aulls, the next by James Shetber. Crossing , the val- 
ley, the first farm (where now is the villsige of Ham- 
mondspost,) was occupied by Capt. John Shether, the 
next by Eli Read, the next by William Barney, the 
next by Richard Daniels. Nearly all of these had 
been soldiers of ;|the revolution. Capt. Shether had 
he&j^ an aptiye oflScer, and was engaged in several bat- 
tles. Of him. Genu. McClure says : — " He was Cap- 
tain of Dragoons, and had the reputation of being an 
excellent ofiScer and a, favorite Oi£ Gen. Washington. 
He lived on his farm at the head of Crooked Lake in 
good style, and fared siitnptuously. He was a gener- 
ous, hospitable man, and k true' patriot." The She^ 
thers were from Connecticut. ■ ' '- '' 


Judge William Read was a Rhode Island Quaker. 
He settled a few years after the revolution on the 
** Squatter lands " ahove Owego', and, being ejected, 
moved westward with his household after the manner 
of the times. Indians pushed the family up the river in 
canoes, while the men drove the cattle along the trail 
on the bank. Judge Read was a man of clear head 
and strong sense, of orderly and accurate business 
talent, arid was much relied upon by his neighhors to 
make crooked matters straight. ^ ' • , 

The Cold Spring Valley was occupied^by Gen. Mc- 
Clure in 1802, or about that time. He erected mills, 
and kept them in activity till 1814, when Mr. Henry 
A. Townsend entered into possession of the valley, and 
resided in the well known Cold Spring House till his 
death in 1839. Mr. Townsend removed from Orange 
County, in this State, to Bath in 1796. He was 
County Clerk from 1799 to 1814 — the longest tenure 
in the catalogue of- county officers. 

Mr. Lazarus Hammond removed from Dannsvilleto 
Cold Spring in 1810, or about that time, and after- 
wards resided near Crooked Lake till his death. He 
was Sheriff of the county in 1814, and, a,t a recent 
period, Associilte Judge of the County Court. 


At the organization of ^he county, all that territory 
which now forms the towns of Tyrpne, Wayne, Read- 
ing, in Steuben County, and the towns of Barrington 
and Starkey, in Yates, was erected into the town of 


Frederictton. The name was given in honor of Fre- 
derick Bartles, a German, who emigrated with his 
family from New Jersey, in 1793, or about that time, 
and located himseli* at the outlet of Mud Lake, at the 
place known far and wide in early days as Bartles^ 
Hollow. He erected under the patronage of Captain- 
Williamson a flouring and saw mill.* General. 
McClure says of him, " Mr. Bartlef was appointed a 
Justice of the Peace. He was an intelligent, generous 
and hospitable man. His mill-pond was very large, 
covering about one thousand acres of land, and was 
filled with fish, such as pike, suckers, perch and eels, 
which afforded a great deal of sport for the Bath gen- 
tlemen in the fishing season. Such parties of pleasure 
were entertained by Squire Bartles, free of costs or 
charges, and in the best style. We fared sumptuously, 
and enjoyed the company of the old gentleman. He 
possessed an inexhaustible fund of pleasant and inter- 
esting anecdote. His dia,lect was a mixture of Dutch 
and English, and was very amusing." 

Bartles' HoUow, in the days of Captain Williamson, 
was thought a spot of great importance. Mud Creek . 
was then a navigable stream, and it was thought that 
the commerce of Mud Lake and its outlet would re- 
quire a town of considerable magnitude at the point 

* BeDJamin Patterson was employed by Captain W. to supply the 
workmen with wild meat while the mill was building. He was paid 
two dollars a day, and allowed the skins of the animalskilled. He kill- 
ed at this time on " Green Hill" nearly an hundred deer and several 
bears in three months, and his companion a hunter, named Brocher, 
destroyed nearly as many. 



where. Squire Bartles had established himself^ In the 
speculating summer of 1796 the proprietor was offered 
-enormous prices for his hollow, but he declined, to part 
with it^ In 1798 Mr. Bartles rafted one hundred thou- 
sand f(?et of boards from his mills to Baltimore!. In 
180O he ran two arks from the same place ; of which 
adventure the following minute was entered by the 
County Clerk, in^ol. 1, of Records of Deeds : — 

" Steuben County. — This fourth day of April, one' 
thousand eight hundred, started from the mills of 
Frederick Bartles, on the outlet of Mud Lake, (Fred- 
erickstown,) two arks of the following dimensions : — 
One built by Col. Charles Williamson, of Bath, 72 
feet long and 15 feet wide ; the other built by Nathan 
Harvey, 71 feet long, and 15 feet wide, were conducted 
down the Conhocton, (after coming through Mud Creek 
without any accident,) to Painted Post for Baltimore. 
Those arks are the first built in this county, except 
one built on the Conhocton at White's' saw-mill, five 
miles below Bath, by a Mr. Patterson, Sweeny and 
others, from Penna., 70 feet long, and T6 wide, was 
finished and started about the 20th of March the 
same year. 

This minute is entered to show at a future day the ' 
first commencement of embarkation in this (as is 
hoped) useful invention. 

By Henry A. Townsendj 

Clerk of Steuben Co;» 

The success of Squire Bsirtles' arks produced as 


great a sensation in the county as the triumph of the 
" Collins steamships" has created in our (lay; but 
craft of this species have long been abandoned by our 
lumb^rinen. Mud Creek has failed since the clearing 
of the forests, and the produce of ^he MudLake country 
seeks the eastern market by canals , and railroads. 

Among the early residents in the town of Bradford 
were Henry Switzer, Samuel S. Camp. Abram Rosen- 
bury, Henry Switzer, senior, Thomas Rolls, Michael 
Scott, Daniel Bartholomew and Captain John N. 

, Genetal William Kernan, of County Kavan, in Ire- 
land, was the;first settler in that part of the old town 
of Fredericktown, which is now the town of Tyrone- 
He settled, in 1800 upon a lot, in a tract of 4000 acres, 
which had been purchased of Low &, Harrison, by Mr. 
Thomas O'Connor of tha County of Roscommon in 
Ireland. Mr. O'Connor proposed to settle a colony of 
his pounttymen on this tract. He himself lived for a 
time in a log-house on the hill by Little Lake, above 
the farm now eopupied by Gen.,, Kernan. Two chil- 
dren, a son and daughter, accompanied la^m in his so- 
journ in the woods. The former is now Charles O'Con- 
nor, Esq., ihe eminent lawyer of New York city. A 
large number of Irish- Immigrants settled on the O'Con- 
nor tract, but.aftej; a few, seasons, ab?indoned their im- 
provements^being discouraged, at the labor, of clear- 
ing the land, and discontented at the, want of religious 
advantages, according to tbe practice of the Roman 
Catholic Church. Gen. Kernan alone remained on the 


Other early settlers of the town of Tyrone were 
Benjamin Sackett, Abram t^'leet, sen., Gersham BeA- 
niett, Thaddeus Bennett, Abram Bennett, , Jonathan 
Townsehd, Capt. John Sebfing. , 

Elder Ephraim Sanford, Josiah Bennett, Solomon 
Wixon, Josiah Bennett, Joshua Smithy, John Teeples, 
Simeon l^ackett, John Sackett, sen., and John Wood- 
ard, were among the early settlers of the to>vn of 
Wayiie, in 180^ or 1803. It seems, howevjer, that 
this toWnShip was settled several year? hefore. Judge 
Dow, of Reading, says, " I think it was in the fall of 
1T91, I went to view land in township. No. 5, second 
range, (now Wayne). At'that time two families only 
were there, Henry MapeS and Zebuloh Huff. I xent 
to the same place again in 1794, and learned that 
Solomon Wixon, with a large family, two' of the name 
of Silsbee, two or three Sandfords and others had set- 
tled there." ' 

Judge Dow settled' near the present village of Read- 
ing Centre, in 1798. David Culver followed him in 
1800. Other early settlers of the towns of Readiilg 
and Starkey who came from 1800 to 1804, or about 
that time, wtfre William Eddy, Abner Hurd, Timothy 
Hard, Simeon Royce, Matthew Royce^ Reuben ' Hen-'- 
derson, Andrew Booth, Samuel Gustin, John Bruce, 
and Samuel Shoemaker. Among others who settled 
about the year 1806, were John and James Roberts, 
Daniel Shannon, Caleb Fulkerson, Richard Lanning; 
George Plumer, and Andrew McDowell. 

Judge Dbw having been consulted by the writer of 
this sketch with regard to a supposed inaccuracy in 


the outline of Sepeca Lake on an old map, gave hinr 
a few notes of tlie. settlement of the country, which are 
as follows : 

^ "I left Connecticut and came to the hea.d of Seneca 
Lake in April, ITSO, and stayed there, and at the 
Friends' Settlement until late in the fall, then, after 
being away af^w months, returned to the head of the 
Seneca Lake in March, 1T90, and continued to reside 
there and at the, place where I now reside until the 
present time. The Friends (Jemima Wilkinson's fol- 
lowers) made their settlement in 1788 and 1789, but 
between them and the head of the, lake, a distance of 
20 miles, it was not settled till the time above men- 
tioned (179,8). 

" The map represents the Senepa Lake as extending 
south to Catharine's Town. Tliis is not correct. 
There were Indian clearings at the Head and at Catha- 
rine (as the two places were familiarly called) when 
white people came there in 1789. There was a marsh 
but a little higher than the level of the lake extending 
from the beach of the lake, up south, nearly to Catha- 
rines, and quite across the valley, excepting a tract of 
tillable land lying between the northern." part of said 
marsh and. the west hill, and extending south from the 
beach about one-half or three-fourths of a mile to a 
part of said marsh. This land was called the Flat at 
the Head on which David Culver and myself resided. 
This flat was the true locality of the Culverstoum of 
the map and the village of Culverts of the book,. any- 
thing to the contrary notwithstanding. 

" The rains and the melting of the snow raised the 


lake some every spring about that time, (1790), and 
the greatest part of the marsh Tras covered with water. 
A stranger might possibly mark down the marsh for 
part of the lake. 

"I saw Caleb Gardner in 1*789, who said he lived 
at Big Flatts, and understood from him that otters' 
had settled there. In the spring of 1790" I saw Col. 
Erwin at Chemtmg, who with one or two men was driv- 
ing some cattle to his son's at Painted Post. ' The 
lands along each side of Catharine Valley were not set- 
tled, I think, till 1798 or 1799. Pfeople then came 
and settled, three, four, and five miles southeast of 
Catharine's. This place was called Johnson's Settle- 
ment. On the lands west of the valley settlements 
were made probably about the same time or soon after. 

" When I first came to Newtown Point as it was 
then called (now Elmira) there were but few houses in 
that place. There were six or seven On the road and 
at Horse-heads. Further on were two houses, but at 
that time I think they were not occupied. There was 
one house within about a mile of Catharine ; there 
were two or three in Catharine, and two or three on 
the flat at the bead of Seneca Lake. I am pretty sure 
these were all the houses that had been built at that 
time (April 1789) at Newtown, at the head of th^' 
lake and between the two places." 


[Most of the facts contained in the following sbetchi of the settle- 
ment of the town of Prattsburgh, are dsriyed from a manuscript 
history of that town prepared by Samnel Hotchkin, Esq., of Fredo- 


nia, (late of the village of Prattsburgh,) and politely furnished by 
that gentleman to the Editor. The manuaoript is in the form of a 
Report made by the direction' of the Prattsburgh Lyceum. It is to 
be regretted that the limits of this volupae do not permit more liberal 
extracts from Mr, Hotchkin's interesting chronicle.] 

The pioneer of Prattsburgh was Captain Joel Pratt. 
There were actual residents within the boundaries of 
that town before Captain Pratt, but its settlement and 
sale were conducted by him ; by his care it was peo- 
pled by citizens who at an early day were reputed by 
all the county, men of good conscience and steady 
habits ; and by his sound' sense, and his discretion in 
conductitig the settlement of the town, he gained an in- 
fluence and enjoyed a pi^blic confidence at home, which 
entitle him to "be styled the Founder of Prattsburgh. 

The first purchase of Township Nunmber Six, in the 
third range, was made in the year 1797, or about that 
time, by a surveyor named Preston, from Westerlo, 
in Albany County. Judge Kersey was admitted to an 
interest in the purchase by Preston, but a difficulty 
arose between the two which it is unnecessary to de- 
tail and the claims of both were ultimately relinquished. 
The township was first known as Kersey town. 

In 1799, or about that time, Capt. Pratt came into 
Steuben County. He had previously resided in Spen- 
certown,-Columbia County, and was induced by the 
promised importance of the Steuben region, uiider the 
Williamson administration, to make a purchase among 
the discouraging mountains of the Five-mile Creek 
country in'preferehce to settling himself upon lands in 
the neighborhood of Geneva or Canandaigua, which were 


then held at a lower price than the hemlock hills of 
Wheeler. Captain Pratt's first purchase was of seyeral 
thousand acres in Township No. .5, Range 3, heing in 
the present toVn of Wheeler. Captain Pratt entered 
the forest with a gang of men, cleared one hundred 
and ten acres, and sowed it with^jheat. On his re- 
turn ,to,the Eastj the rough life of the Steuben woods 
h^d so reduced and blackened the fair and portly far- 
mer of Columbia County, that he was not recognized 
by his family. The following winter Captain Pratt 
removed his family into the wilderness. In 1802, be- 
ing not altogether satisfied with his purchase, he was 
permitted to exchange it for the township above. 

William Root, of Albany County, joined with him 
in the contract for. the purchase of Township No. 6, 
by the terms of which contract, Messrs. Pratt and 
Root charged themselves with the survey, sale and set- 
tlement of the Township, two hundred acres being re- 
served for the support of a resident clergyman. They 
were to sell no land at a lower price than $2 50 per 
acre, and were to receive one-half of all monies paid 
for land, at a rate exceeding $2 00 per acre, after they 
had paid the sum of $30,000 into the Pulteney Land 
OflSce. The connection of Messrs. Pratt & Root was 
terminated in 1806. 

" Mr. Pratt had determined to form a church as 
well as a town. It appears to have been his intention 
to have cast his lot with the hardy pioneers of the 
forest, while Mr. Root, who continued to reside at Al- 
bany, seemed to regard the whole enterprise in no 
other light than as a hopeful speculation." .... 


" Captain Pratt was a member of a (jlongregatlonal 
Church in theVillage of Spencertown. It wa^ his de- 
termination to settle himself and' family in this Town- 
ship, and establish a religious society in the order to 
which he had been accustomed. With a view to the 
accomplishment of this object, he required every per- 
son to whom he sold land, to give a note to the amount 
of fifteen dollars ob each hundred acres of la,nd pur- 
chased by iiim, payable within a given time, with the 
legal interest annually, till paid to the Trustees of the 
Religious Society which should be formed. 

" The first permanent settler within this' township 
waa Mr. Jared Pratt, a nephew' of Capt. Pratt, who 
came here to reside in the spring of 1801. Mr. Pratt 
had just set out in his career of life, and brought with 
him a wife to cheer and sweeten thfe deprivations inci- 
dent to a pioneer's life. The farm wHch he selected, 
and which he continued to occupy as long as he lived, 
is the same as is now owned by Mr. John Van Housen, 
and there a row of Lombardy ' poplars at this day 
marks the place of the first shelter built for 
civilized man within this township. Concerning this 
family. Rev. Mrl Hotchkin, in his history of the 
Presbyterian Church in Western New York, takes 
the following notice : — ' They Constituted tlie only 
family in the township for about two years and 
a half. Their hardships were many, and their priva- 
tions great. No neighbor within several miles, no 
roads except a mere trail and a dense forest all around 
them. To ' obtain flour for their bread, Mr. Pratt 
would yoke his oxen, fill his bag with graii^lay it 


across the y(^e of bis oxen,|and drive his team eleven 
miles to Naples, where was the nearest mjll to hishabi- 
tation, the road all the way lying in a dense forest 
without any .habitation contiguous to it.' Mr. Pratt 
continued to reside here, till 1840, when, by a fa,ll,,hp 
broke his neck, and died instantly in the 6Sd year of 
his. age, , Throughojit his long, life, he was respected 
and beloved, and^ ,in his death it may with perfect 
truthfulness he ^aid, ' Tho' many die as sudden,. few 
as well.' ; f , 

" The next settler, if settler he might be called, was 
Daniel Buell. He built him a rude? shanty on what 
is now an orchard, and, , attached to Mr. Isaac Ains- 
worth farm. Buell was a jolly, and most eccentric 
bsichelpr; His usual and almost constant employment 
was hunting,; ; He resided here but a few years, when 
he sought a deeper solitude, and soon afterwards, was 
murdered, by a party of Indians in Ohio." — {MS. 
Hist, of Prattshurgh.) 

Rev. John Niles, a licentiate of a Congregational 
Association, settled, in 1803, with his family on a lot 
of eighty acres, being part of the farm occupied by the 
late Mr; Josiah Allis, upon the east side of the present 
Bath road, which was given to him by Capt. Pratt as 
an ind.ucement to settle upon his township, " The 
Sabbatl^ after Mr. Niles' arrival he held divine service 
in Jared Pratt's house, and from that day to the pre- 
sent, these people have never been without these sacred 
ministrations. Abo,i?t this time, the sons of Capt. 
Pratt|jn advance of ;their parents, settled upon; the 


farm which has ever since been held by some one or 
more of his immediate descendants. 

" Next in order of settlers, and in the winter of 
1804, came the families of V^illiam P. Curtis, Sanitiel 
Tuthiil, and Pomroy Hull. At this time, the only 
road leading t6 town was the Two Rod Road, (frona 
Bath towards Naples.) Solsbury Burton came like- 
wise in 1804, a,nd occupied what used to be well known 
as the Burton farm. About this time came Capt. 
Pratt himself, with the remainder of his family from 
the East Hill, in Wheeler, and where he had resided 
for two or three yea,rs previous. 

" In the year 1806, we find a goodly array of set- 
tlers. In addition to those we have named, are the 
following .:^EnochNiles,.Rufus.Blodget, Isaac Waldo, 
Judge Hopkins, John Hopkins, Dea. Ebenezer Rice, 
Robert Porter, Dea. Gamaliel Loomis, Samuel Hayes, 
Dea. Abial Lindley, Moses Lyon, Uriel Chapin, Asher 
Bull, Bohan Hills, Stephen Prentiss, and perhaps 
others. ,:. 

*' Whoever, at the present day, will walk through 
our grave-yard, to read there the records of the past 
generation, will find most of thcise names upon those 
rude head-stones, now defaced and nearly obliterated 
by the hand' of time, for most of them have long since 
gone, down to the silent resting. place of the dead. 
The inscriptions there recorded are homely,, but they 
are truthful."— (JlfS.Hwf.) "; 

Tlje first extensive clearing ip Prattsburgh was one 
of seventy acres, including the Piibliot Square of tjie 


Village, made in 1803, under the direction of Captain 
Pratt. The first framed building was a barn built by 
Joel Pratt, Jr., in 1804, " and that identical building 
yet stands by Bishop Smith's orchard, and upon his 
lot. ^This building was during the first few years of 
our annals a sort of " Hotel Dieu." Families there 
rested until they could arrange the rude appointment 
of their own homes, sometimes in numbers of half a 
dozen at once. And till the erection of the first meet- 
ing-house, it was the usual place of holding public 

worship The first merchants of our town were 

Joel Pratt, jr. and Ira Pratt, two sons of Captain 
Pratt. The first hotel-keeper was Aaron Bull. His 
house, ;which was but a log one, was probably opened, 
in 1806 or 1807, and adjoined Dr. Pratt's office. 
The buildings of Dr. Hayes now cover the same 
ground The same burying ground we at pre- 
sent use for interment, was set apart for this purpose 
in 1806. The first contribution to this now immense 
multitude, was Harvey Pratt, a young man of 22 
years, and son of Capt. Joel Pratt." {^S. Hist.) 

The Congregational church was organized in 1804, 
and at that time consisted of eleven members. The first 
church edifice was erected in 1807, and was a framed 
building standing near the' southeast corner of the 
public square. The worshippers it seems were at first^ 
inclined to build it of logs, greatly to the displeasure 
of Capt. Pratt, who " retorted upon the society the 
anathema pronounced against those who dwelt in ceil- 
ed houses while the temple of the Lord laid waste." 


Rev. John Niles ajid Rev. James H. Hotcbkin •were 
the early ministers of this society. 

The West Hill settlement was commenced in 1805, 
by Stephen Prentiss, Warham Parsons, and Aaron 
Cook. The settlement of Riker's Hollow was com- 
menced in 1807, by Michael Keith, who was joined' 
in 1810, by Thomas Riker, John Riker, and William 

"Captain Pratt, who figures so conspicuously in 
our early history, and who was the i^ounder of our 
town, and to a great extent the fashioner of its polity, 
continued to reside among this people till 1820, when 
he ended his mortal career. His last days were a sort 
of patriarchal retirement, and to this day his memory 
is cherished by all who knew him." — {MS. Hist.) 

Judge Porter died in, 1847. He was for many years 
one of the most prominent citizens of the town, and was 
a man of liberal education, of much literary taste, and 
an efficient and conscientious magistrate. The annal- 
ist, ofthe town says, " He probably filled more offices 
of trust among this people than any other man of his 
day. Our early town records show that aU the most 
responsible offices within our bDun(^s.haye frojn time to 
time been filled by liim." ,; 

Rev. James H. Hstchkin, a venerable ,and widely 
known citizen of Prattsburgh, (author of 3%e History of 
the Presbyterian, Chy,rck in Western JV^w York, fiere- 
tofore alluded to,)^ Septembei: 2d, 185,1., He was 
the son of Beriah Hot^hkiiij.a pioneer pai^sionary. 
He graduated at Williams College, 180Q ; studied 
theology with Dr. Porter, of Cattskill, removed to 

Prattsburgh in 1809, and there labored twenty-one 
years. The Genesee Evangelist says of him " He had 
a mind of a strong masculine order, well disciplined 
by various reading, and stored with general knowledge. 
The doctrinal views of the good old orthordox New 
England stamp which he imbibed at first, he main- 
tained strenuously to the last, and left a distinct im- ^ 
pression of them wherever he had an opportunity to 
inculcate them. His labors through the half century 
were ' abundant' and indefatigable. He had the hap- 
piness of closing his life in the scenes of his greatest 


The first permanent settler in this town was Capt. 
Silas Wheeler, a native of Rhode Island, who emi- 
grated from' Albany County, in the State of New York, 
in the year 1790 or 1800. Capt. Joel Pratt made a 
purchase of several thousand acres in this town, in the 
year previous, and had made a clearing of one hundred 
and ten acres, and raised a crop of wheat from it, on 
what is now known as the " Mitchell farm." Capt. 
Pratt was permitted, by Capt. Williamson, to ex- 
change this for a tract in the town of Prattsburgh, 
where he removed in 1804, or about that time. 

Capt. Wheeler had been a man of adventure. He 
was one of Benedict Arnold's men ' in the perilous 
march through the forests of Maine, and at the assault 
of Quebec stood near Montgomery when he fell. He 
was four times taken prisoner in the revolutionary war 
— twice on land, and twic6 when roving the high seas 


as privateer's man. From his first captivity, he was 
soon rpleased by exchange. After another capture, 
he lay in prison more than a year. Being taken ft 
second time on one of the daring privateers that tor- 
mented the British coast, he ■was confined in the Jail 
^f Kinsale, in Ireland, and condemned to be hung as a 
pirate — or at least was very rudely treated, and threa- 
tened with hanging by powers that had the authority 
to make good their threats. He escaped this disagree- 
able fate by the assistance of a friendly Irishman, and 
^f the distingiiished orator and statesman Henry Grat- 
tan. Mr. Grattan procured for him a passport, pro- 
tected him from press-gangs and the police, and se- 
cured for him a passage to, Punkirk, in France. ' 

Capt. Wheeler was induced' to settle, in Steuben 
County by, Preston, the Surveyor, (mentioned in the 
sketch of the settlement of Prattsbui-gh,) who, on his 
-return to Westerlo, spread the most glowing accounts 
of the fertility and prospects of tke.Cpnhocton Country. 
Capt. Wheeler's settlement was made at the place now 
-occupied by his grand-son, Mr. Grattan H. Wheeler. 

Capt. Wheeler's fir^t trip to mill, is worthy of re- 
cord. There were-, at the time when he had QC(ja,sion 
to " go to mill," three institutions in the neighbor- 
hood where grinding was done — at the Friend's Settle- 
ment,^ at Bajih,] and at Naples. The mill-stones of 
JBatb had suspended operations — there being nothing 
-there to grind, as was report3d. Capt Wheeler made 
-a cart, of which the wheals were sawn from the end of 
-a log of curly -maple; the box was of corresponding 
architecture. He stained for Naples with two oxen 

attached to this vehicle. Tito young men went Before 
the oxen with axes and chopped a road, and the clumsy 
chariot came foundering through the bushes behind — 
bouncing over the logs, and snubbing the stumps, like - 
a ship working through an ice-field. The first day 
they reached a point a little beyond thfr present vil- 
lage of -Prattsburgh — a distance of six miles from their 
starting point — and on the second, moored triumphant- 
ly at the mill of Naples. 

Capt. Wheeler was a man famous for anecdotes 
throughout all the-land. Not one of the multitude of 
Captains, who flourished in our country in early days,, 
earheid his military title more fairly. He died in 1828,. 
aged 78. Hon. Grattan H. Wheeler, son of Oapt. 
Wheeler j died in 1852. He had been a prominent 
citizen of the county many yiSars, and had served in 
the State and National Legislature. 

After Capt. Wheeler's settlement, lots were pur- 
chased, and improvements made by persons residing 
abroad, some of whom afterwards established thiem- 
selves on these farms. Thomas AiiUs, Esq., 'si son of 
William AuUs, the first settkr of Pleasant Valley, 
and Col. Barney, of the same neighbdl-ho6d, with Philip 
Murtle, who lived on the farm now owned by Gen. 
Otto F. Marshall, were among the earliest- settlers 
after the Wheelers. These, with' setters named Bear, 
Ferral, and Rifle, were mentioned by our informa,nt as 
constituting all, or nearly all, of the original stock ot 
settlers. Esq. Gray came in at an early time. The- 
Gulf Road to Bath was opened by Capt. Wheeler; the- 
Kennedyville Road was opened a year or two after- 


■wards., The first saw-mill in the town stood at the 
Narrows of t^e FiyeMile Creek, and,, was built by 
Capt. Wheelpr, 


./I ' ■ ' ■ ■ 

;: The first settlement in the town of Pulteney, was 
made on Bully HiU, by John Van Camp and D. Thomp- 
son, in 1797. The following are the names of other 
early settlers from 1799 to 1807 :— Samuel Miller, G. 
F. Fitz Simmons, Thomas Hoyt, Abraham Bennet, 
Ephraim Eggleston, John Kent, Joseph Hall, senior, 
Samuel Wallis, John Turner, John Ellis, Augustus 
Tyler, and Ezra Pelton, John Gulick kept the first 
dry goods store in the town.* 


Abraham Johnston settled in 1806 where Richard 
Towle now lives, and about the same time, Samuel Ba- 
ker settled where J. Rice now lives, and Reuben Smith, 
Abraham Smith and Abel BuUard, settled on the road 
between Gofi's Mills and the old Turnpike, near the 
old State Road. Jacob, Benjamin and Daniel N. Ben- 
nett, settled in 1807, or about that time, on what is 
yet called Bennett's Flatts, Job B. Rathbun, with 
three of his brothers, in the Rathbun settlement, in 
1808 or 1809, William Allen and David Smith, in 
the Pond settlement in 181(3 or '11, and Captain Joel 
Rice and Esq. Israel Baldwin in 1811 or '12. Ma- 
jor Thomas Bennet settled on the old turnpike about 

* Communicated by Melchior "Vf agener, E3 



six miles east of Horhellsville, toward 1808'. Colonel 
Henry Kennedy built a saw-mill at Goff's Mills in 
1809. William Goff, Esq., came in in 1812. 

The town of Howard was set ofif from the old town 
of Canisteo in 1812. The first town meeting was held 
at the house of Simeon Bacon, on the old turnpike, in 
the spring of 1813. In the year 1812, ftere were about 
thirty families in the town.* 


Asia and Uriah Nash, the first settlers of Hornby, 
settled in 1814, in the north part of the town called 
Nash settlement. Edward Stubbs, Ezra Shaw, Samuel 
Adams, and Jesse Underwood, settled in 1815. In 
the same year, Jesse Piatt, John Babbins and Amasa 
Stanton, settled in the Piatt settlement, in the south- 
western part of the town. James S. Gardner, Ches- 
tcK-Knowlton, and Adin Palmer settled in the Palmer 
settlement in 1816. 

Darius Hunt, Chauncey Hunt, James Overhiser and 
Thomas Hurd, were the first settlers in Orange, on 
Mead's Greek, probably in 1812. 


Captain Williamson, about the time of the settle- 
ment of Bath, sent a man named' Bivin, to the Twenty- 
two mile Tree, (now Blood's Corners,) to keep a tavern. 

* Communicated by William Goff, Esq;. 
f Communicated by Henry Gardner, Esq. 
J Cbmmnicated by Mr. Levi Chamberlain. 


This point was known in early times as Bivin's Cor- 
ners. The first settlement made in the town of Con- 
hocton after this, was made, according to the best of 
our inforniation, in the Raymond Settlement, by James 
and Aruna Woodward. In 1806, Joseph Chamber- 
lain, of Herkimer County, settled on the Dayis farm, 
near Liberty Corner?. His household consisted of a 
cow and a dog. All his property, besides his axe, was 
contained in a small pack. For his cow the accommo- 
dations were rather rude. When the hour of milking 
arrived, the settler resorted to the strange expedient 
of driving the beast " a straddle of a log," and milk- 
ing into a notch cut with his axe. Into this he crum- 
bled his bread, and ate therefrom with a wooden spoon. 
In the following year, Levi Chamberlaiuj. Captain 
Jones Cleland, Joseph Shattuck and Deacon Horace 
Fowler, settled in this neighborhood. Other early 
settlers were — Timothy Sherman, James Barnard, 
Samuel Rhoades, Jesse Atwood, Isaac Morehouse, and 
Charles Burlingham. TheBrownsons settled at Loon 
Lake at an early day. Abram Lint settled at Lint 
Hill, in 1809, or about that time, and afterwards the 
Hatches, the Ketchers, and others. 

Captain Cleland built in ]808 the first mills. Levj 
Chamberlain built in 1809, the first frame house at 
Liberty Corners, and Joseph Shattuck kept the first 
tavern at the same place about the same time. 

On account of some legislative awkwardness, the 
settlers in the northern part of the town, went for sev- 
eral years to Bath, to vote at town meetings, while 
those in the southern part went to Dansville. The 


two squads oif voters uspd.tomeet each other on the 
road when going to the polls, , . 


f _ , ■ 

The following are names of settlers who were living 
in 1810 in the town of Troupsburgh, which then com- 
prised nearly all the territory in the county south of 
the Canisteo River, "Beginning on the east side, the 
settlers were Caleb Smith, Daniel Johnson, Lemuel 
Benham, Breakhill Patrick, Samuel B. Rice, Nathaniel 
Mallory, Elijah Johnson, Joseph Smith, Reazin Searle 
and Bethuel Tubbs. Further west, on the old State 
Road, were Ebenezer Spencer, Andrew Simpson and 
a family of Marlatts, Elisha Hance, Philip Cady, Eli- 
jah Cady, Samuel Cady, Peter Cady, Caleb Colvin, 
Matthew Griniiolds, William Card, Charles Card; and 
west of the old State Road, were Nathan Coffin, Henry 
Garrison, Edmund Robinson, Jeremiah Nudd. The 
last three came in 1812, Alanson Perry came in 1810. 
There was some others here in an early day, as by the 
census of 1815, there were over 500 inhabitants."* 
Daniel Johnson was Supervisor till 1812, and Charles 
Card from 1813 to 1819. Samuel B. Rice was Town 
Clerk for about twenty years. The first grist-mill 
was built by Caleb Smith, the second by George Mar- 
tin in 1812. " There was but little improvement made 
for several years, and many of the first settlers became 
discouraged and emigrated to the West, and the town 
seemed to Be at a stand. Those remaininghave become 

* Commimicated by Charles Card, Esq. 


comfortable in circumstances." The Brotzman's, 
Andrew Boyd, tbe Rowleys and John Craig were early 
settlers of Jasper. ■ ' 

" That part of the To^n of Orange called Mead's 
Creek was settled, or began to be setjjled, a few years 
previous to 1820. Among the inhabitants who were 
there previous to or about that time, were Jedediah 
Miller, Andrew Fort, David Kimball, Esq., and his 
brother Moses, John Dyer, Sylvester Goodrich, a^d 
three settlers named Hewitt. Joshua Chamberlain 
came there four or five years later and bought the land 
where the village of Monterey stands, of a man by the 
name of De Witt. 

" The northeast part of the Town of Orange knowto 
by the appellation 6f Sugar Hill, did not receive its name 
from any distinguished elevation or large hill, but from 
the following circumstance. Some of the men and 
boys from the older settlements used to come to this 
place to make sugar in the spring of the year, while it 
was yet a wilderness. They had traversed the woods 
in quest of deer, and taken notice of the fine groves of 
maple in this locality, and as there were no settlers on 
the land, and nobody in their way, they had an excel- 
lent chance for making sugar ; and as they had to give 
the place some name, they called it Sugar Hill . The 
settlement began about the year 1819 or 1820. Lewis 
Nichols, William Webb, Thomas Horton, Abraham 

* Communicated by Dr. Silas B. Hibbard, of Sugar Hill. 


Allen, John Allen, Ebenezer Beach, Mr. Eveleth, Sey- 
mour Lo(fkwood, and two families of Complions, were 
among the first settlers. Dr. Hibbardai-rivedin 1821, 
and Abraham Lybolt, Esq., came about the same time. 
" After the commencement of the settlement the 
land was very soon taken up by actual settlers. The 
fertility of the soil, its proximity to the. head of Seneca 
Lake, their toticipated place of market, the ekij man- 
ner of obtaining the land from the La;nd Office at Bath, 
their confidence in the validity of the titled and'iperhaps 
thfe noVelty of the name, might all have contributed to 
the speedy settlement of the place." 

The first permanent settlers of that part of the old 
Town of Bath which is now the Town of Campbell, 
were Joseph Stevens, Robert Campbell, Solomon Camp- 
bell, and Archa CajOipbell. In addition to these, the 
remaining inhabitants of the Town in the year 1800, 
and about that time, were, Elias Williams, blacksmith, 
San^uel Calkins, farmer, Abram Thomas and Isaac 
Thomas, hunters, James PeEirsall, farmer, David Mc- 
Nutt, Joseph Woolcott, andO^^ Sailor, 


AvocA was known in the early part of Col. William- 
son's time as " Buchanan's," or the Eight-MUe-Tree. 
The name of the first settler,: as the title of the settle- 
ment indicates, was Buchanan. He was established at 

* Communicated by Mr. Samuel Cook, of Campbell 


that point by the agent and kept " accommodations"' 
for travellers. A correspondent has returned the 
names of the oldest residents as follows : James Mc- 
Whoi'ter, Abraham Towner, Gersham Towner, Danifel 
Tilton, John Donnahee, Spence Moore, Henry Smith, 
Allen Smith, who have been residents for about thirty 
years, and John B. Calkins, Joseph Matthewson, Ger- 
sham Salmon, James Davis, and James Silsbee, wh& 
have been residents about twenty- four years. 


The first settlement in the town of Wayland was 

made by Zimmerman, in 1806, on the farm now 

occupied by J. Hess, at the depot. The north part of 
the town was settled by Captain Bowles (1808), Mr. 
Hicks (about 1810), Thomas Begole (1814), Mr. Bow- 
en (1808), and John Hume (1808). 

The settlements at Loon Lake in the south part of 
the town, were made in 1813 by Salmon Brownson. 
James Brownson, Elisha Brownson, and Isaac Willie, 

The settlers of the central part of the town were 
Walter Patchin (1814), Dr. Warren Patchin (1815), 
Dennis Hess (1815), Benjamin Perkins, and Samuel 

" No road passed through the town except the an- 
cient one from Bath to Dansville. It was a hard town 
to settle, and people were generally poor. They passed 
through many hardships and privations, but now our 
town is in a prosperous condition. 

* Communicated by Rev. E. Brownson. 


*' One circuBastEHice connected with the early, settle- 
ment of this town may be Bopiewhat interesting. In 
1615, there being a scarcity of bread, I went through 
the towns of Springwater, Livonia, and Sparta, and 
thence to Dansville, in search of grain for sale, find 
none was to be had in those towns, nor in Western 
New York. People had to hull green wheat and rye 
for food. I found a field of rye on William Perine's 
farm which was thought nearly fit to cut. I went home 
and got some neighbors, and with oxen and cart went 
and cut some of it, threshed it, and took it to the mill 
and had it mashed, for it was too damp to grind, and 
thought ourselves the happiest people in the world be- 
cause we had bread." ' 



Williamson's agency — his CHARACTiiR. 

Nearly sixty years have passed away since the Scot- 
tish Captain started from the West Branch in pursuit 
of the air-cagtle which shone, so bravely like a baU 
loon to him, looking northward from the Cliffs of North- 
umberland. The changes 'which have in the mean 
time been wrought upon thiei continent, are without, a 
parallel in. the world's ' annals. , Prophecy has been 
put to silence : conjecture has proved a fool ; for the ; 
things which have been accorfjplish'ed .exceed so far any 
thing promised in the visions of political prophets, or. 
in the ravings of dreamers, that the extra vagg,nce of 
our ancient soothsayers is this day accounted modera- 
tion. No conquest of Goths, or Tartars can be com- 
pared for rapidity with that 'which . has been achieved 
by the. woodsmen of America in the overthrow of a: 
forest as broad as an ocean. The little weapon which 
they wielded against the innumerable host that they 
went forth to conquer, seemed, enchanted, like .lie 
swords of those champions of old,, who are said to haive, 
slain their pagan enemies till rivers were ch0ked, and 
hollows became hillocks, j Staites ha,ve; been founded, 


citiest, built, savage rivers made highways, prairiea 
where the Genius of Barbarism fed his herds of elk 
and buffalo, made pastures for mules and bullocks, 
and the lakes which lay afar oflF in the solitudes, cross- 
ed only by flocks of wild fowl and the fleets of Indian 
admirals, have beengladdeiiea by the 'keels of steam- 
ships and the, watchful flame of light-houses. The ut- 
most' western wSldemess which the settler of f'f The 
Genesee" beheld over the Lakes, and ■ which he sur- 
mised might become the dwelling place of desperate 
pioneers when he had been a century in his grave,' i» 
now but jnidway between Niagara and the outposts of 
the Republic, and caravans of restless men, pressing 
beyond thes& momentary borders, have crossed the Cor- 
dillefraa Jind built cities on theJcoast of the Pacific. 

Where now is the gallaftt' Scot and his city t The 
Genesee country has not lagg<8d^ in the advances, of the 
Republic. Its population is counted hy hundred thou- 
sands, tod its wealth is told by millions ; but the me- 
mory of the city builder and his schemes has almost 
perished. While the Northern counties have "been 
making almost' unexampiled strides to power and opu- 
lence, the district which wise' men of the last century 
pointed at as the centre. of future 'Western commerce 
has dragged its slow lengthi along in poverty and: ob- 
scurity, and only by the sheerest labor has reached its 
present position of independi^ce. The Great West- 
ern Highway was diverted from the valley of the Con- 
hoeton. For a quarter of a century the wealth of the 
North and West has been rolling in one tremendotfa - 
torrent to the Mohawk and *the Hudson, and by the 


side of the channel through which it poured, the demon, 
our ancient, enemy aforementioned, has struck swamps 
and salt-bogs with his -staiFj and forthwith cities, have 
•risen from the mire. The little, rivier which was to 
have been the drudge of the broad northwest, carrying 
to the seaboard squadrons of rough arks laden with the 
-grains of Genesee and far-off Michigan, has been hap- 
pily delivered from that tedious servitude, and ram- 
bles idly through its valley, turninga few.millrwheels 
and watering meadows. The fair valley of Bath, in- 
stead of groaftiflg under the weight of a wilderness of 
bricks where brokers and cashiers, and other mercan- 
,tile monsters might go about, gratifying their financial" 
instincts tot the full, bears at this day . only a quiet 
village and a few ranges of farms, and is girdled- by 
wooded hillsides as wild as in the days when the great 
Captain of the Six Nations was wont to rest with his 
Nwarriors. under their shadows. 

The memory of the Scot and his city has almost pe- 
Tished. A Seftator of the- United States, addressing 
not long since the members of the Legislatures of the 
vS.tate of New York, guests .of the city of New York, 
at the Astor House, spoke of the prediction of a tra- 
veller in the year 1800, that the village of Bath on the 
Conhocton river, would in fifty years become the com- 
.mercial metropolis ot jthe State of New York.* The 

* A portion of the speech of Hon.' tViLUAM H. Sstvtaed, at the 
Astor House, on the evening of JIarch.22,, 1851, is thus reported in 
-the New York Ooarier and Enquirer : 

" Gentlemen : It seems to me that 'we can improve this festival 
■ wccasion by considering, how-intimate is the relation between the 


public heaird it'i^ith. surprise^ , Many men of theipast 
generation remembered; the name of Willi'ainson, but 
of the present generation few, except ciijzeiis of West- 
ern New York, knew of the attemptediassassination of 
the great- Atlantic city. -^H ; .','.' j 

. iThe stCry ofl the downfall of the Backwooda Baron 
and bistcity, is a brief one. Ten years Col./Williamson 

City and the State, — how essential each is to the other.' There is a 
town in the jnterior of the State,<far away in what was lately Jmown 
,aa the sefiluded, seqiuestered part of jt,.Bath by name. Maijy.^.tbe 
repcesBntatives of the Bnral Districts Imow it well : the meml^rs 
from Steuben, can speak for it. Of this town I wish to speak. It 
is A beautiful but quiet one, situated iit the delightful valley and on 
the banks of' the Conhocton,' a tributary of . the, Susquehanna. 
iPut thos^ who know it well hare remarked, thiCt it has a broad and 
magnificent plan, imperfectly ^Ued oi)l)., There are houses on cor- 
ners, designating streets and avenues, without inhabitants! In short, 
it was laid oiit for a great city, but has long since renounced all am- 
bitious pretensions. Tou do not know how this has happened. "Well 
if; on your return to Albany, you will caU on my excellent friend 
(Mr. Street,) the State ^Librarian, he will give you asmallr duodeci- 
mo volume, published in the year 1800, containing an account of a 
journey performd by an English gentleman in the short space of 
six weeks, from th'e(S6y of -ITew York all the way to Ifi^ai'a Kails. 
That traveller visited Bath, then ini the day-spring of its growth, 
and he recorded of it that it was destined to be the greatest commer- 
cial metropolis of the State of IjTew Xork — The Hudson was, only 
a short arm of the sea. It did not penmate the interior f^ enough 
to take a hold of the trade of the country. Bath was to receive all 
of it that could b^ diverted from ttie channel of the St. Lawrence 
and the market of Quebec, and send it down through the Conhocton 
and the Susquehanna to Chesapeake Bay. Had that calculation 
been realized, Bath might have b6en a city like Albany, and IJTew 
York would have been a city over which the President could have 
had but little ambition to preside." — (Cheers.) 


:4iv84,Pi^''!^^ C!pnhocton,>9,n.d exhausted a]l chemistry 

in'bis.experimeots 'upon tLft ipossibility . of turning a 

castle of rainbpwg into stone* His expenditures had 

been enormous, and -the British proprietors began to 

grumble audibly. The towers of glass, which they once 

Imagined they saw glimmering in the wilderness, were 

;scrutinized with profound suspicion.. But whatever 

■doubt there might be about the reality of those struc- 

■tiires, as to one thing there c6uld be no doubt at ,all. 

'T'he greedy wilderness was swallowing the, fortune of 

the Pulteneys with as little gratitude as an anaconda. 

■Hundreds of thousands of pounds had been thrown to 

that monster, and like the grave it was yet hungry. 

To satisfy such a remorseless appetite one needed a 

silver mine, or a credit with the goblins. 

•Ool. Williamson, however, was not discouraged. 
Time enough has not been given,be argued. Even a 
■magician would not undertake to perform such a chem- 
ical exploit in ten years. The brilliant ^balloon which 
overhangs the wilderness is not yet securely anchored, 
it is true, and sways to and fro as if it might possibly 
Tisie into the air and sail away. Give but a few'years 
more and every thing will be accomplished, 

But the faith and patience of the proprietors had 
become utterly exhausted. They had had enough of 
balloons and ballooning, and were' deaf to argument. 
Like one awaking from enchantment, the Baronet saw 
the towers of ivory to be but squat pens of logs, and 
the spires of glass, but long dead trunks of hemlocks, 
bristling with spikes and bkckened with fire. It was 
determined to change the system which had regulated 


the (estate. Aceor/linglyi' in 1802, Col. Williamson 
descended fropoi the throne, atid Robert TrDti{)J Esq., 
of the city of New -York reigned in his stead.* 

* Colonel WiUiamaon held the Pulteney- Estates. ;ia New Tori in 
hia'own name, and conveyed them io Sir William fu^teney in the 
month of March, 1801. The act of 1798, ^enhitting aliens to pur- 
chase and hoida-eal.eBtate in this State,- (fiassed, it is said, -through 
the influence df ,Gpl.: W.,, who was a memljer of the JjegSslature in 
that yegr,) expire(l, by its o^yn limitation, on the %dj of April.foUpwing. 
Cbr. Williamson assigned to Sir WUliam Pulieney ,on the IStlvof 
December, 1800, for the coUsidferiition of $300,000; all- the bonds aiid 

. mortgages hfeld by him. ■ ' - <, - i -, 

J In the' (month of March following, , he executed to Sir William 
P.ulteney ^Te deeds, which were deliwred as escrows toKobert Troup, 
Esq., to be delivered to Sir W. P., in case certain conditfona, were 
performed before the 25tli day of October, 1801, which conditions were 
performed by the execution of a deed from Pulteney to Williamson, 

.dated 23d July, 1801. Of these five deeds, the first, dated 4th March, 
,1801, conveys 50,00,0 acres of land in the County of Ontario; the se- 
cond, dated 5th March, 1801, conveys twenty lots in the heart of the 
city of New York, 1'784 acres of land in the County of Otsego, 1299 
acres in the town of Unadilla, 1400 acres in the C6unty of Herkimer, 
9000 in the County of Montgomery, 34108 acres in the County of 
Chenango: the lliird, dated 27th March,;1801, conveys 7000 acres of 
land in tbe County of Chenango; thefourth, datedSlst March, 1801, 
conveys 5000 acres of land in the Gerundigut township, and 600 
acres in the town of Galena, in Cayuga, and all lands in the State of 
New York, held by the said Williamson : the fifth is an assignment 
qf all the personal property, nptes, bonds, bills, and securities of every 
description, held by the said Williamson. The consideration express- 
ed in each, is one dollar, and all lands sold, or contracted to be sold 
out of the tracts conveyed, are reserved. 

By the instrument executed on the 23d day of July, 1801, Sir Wil- 
liam Pulteney, in consideration of the execution of tbe said five es- 
crows, and of the sum of twenty shillings, agreed — first, to accept 
and pay nine setts of bills of exchange drawn by Williamson on tlie 
24th March, 1801, for the sum of £5,000 sterling, at two, three and 


" Col. Willianis(in| after the termination of his agen- 

■<iy, returned to England. He afterwards made occd.- 

siorial visita'to-Atnerica. He died in the year 1807, 

'Ifafsea, it is said,) of the yellow fever, while on a mis- 

sioii from tlie British Govei'nment to the'Havana. 

He 'was a man of spirit, energy and ability. ■ Pre- 
^^o^sessing in pefson,* free and frank- in manner, gene- 
• rous arid friendly' in ' dWi>osition, he is remembered to 
this day as a " fine feliow" by the farmers who were 
once young pioneers, and opened his roads and hewed 
his forests. A keen follower of sports, a lover of the 
horse, the rifle and the hound, he was accounted a man 
bj'the rudfest foresters.' High-bred, intelligent, of 
teiigagirig address, and readily-adapting himself to the 
■circumstances of all men, he was equally welcome to 
the cabin' of the woodsman' or the table of the Peer : 
arid whether disbussing a horse-race with Canisteo, 
a school project with Prattsburgh, or the philosophy of 
over-shot Wheels with Bartle's Hollow, he was entirely 
at home, and pronounced opinions which were listened 
to with respect. His hale, prompt, manly greeting 

four months after sighif : 2d, to indemnify Williamson against the ef- 
fects of bonds and mortgages, to the amount of about $70,000 : 3d, 
to pay Col. W. in three years after the Ist April,' 1801, £20,000 ster- 
ling, and tile interest on that sum at five per cent, at the end of each 
year, till all was paid, as a cornp^nsation for his services in managing 
the concerns of. the Genesee dissociation, and also £15,000 to pay 
debts contracted by him By reason of his management of tte said con- 
cerns : and finally, all claims and demands against Col. W. arising 
before the 1st AprilV 1801, are relinquished and discharged. 

These facts appear from records in t^e office of Secretary of State, 
copies Qf which in^e possession pf Robert Campliellj Esq., of Bath, 
the Editor was permitted to examine. 


•won for him the gopdwill qf.jth'e,^et|t]er, and- gave him 
influence at therOccasioDal ass^emj^lies, .of the citizens. 
A crowd of men,, fcir «xanii)le, waiting in the mpdows 
behind thj? Lsnd , Office for tbei beginning of ahorse- 
racCj became impatient,, and at last C^ms^^ep began |o 
kill time by pghting. ,Tbe Cplope,!, galloping over 
from the village, had but to exclaim, in iig. clear, 
cheerful way, as be.vod'e a,roundthe mob, " What, 
boys, have you begun the fun already 1 Don't bp in 
such has,te,", and. wrathful Canisteo became pacified., 

He had, a .gallant and. impetuous way of doing what 
was to be done. Where he was, everything was kept 
; stirring. ,Xhe ordinary ; rou.tine of a land„agenit's life 
had no charms for him. To sit in a drowsy office the 
live-long day, among quills,. arui maps, and iedgers, 
hearing complaints of failing crops, sickness, and hard 
times, pestered 'with petitions for tbei making of new 
roads and the mending of broken bridges, was unen- 
durable. He mus' '■'do through, the, woQds,"talk with 
the settlers, awaken the aliens, show his lands to 
strangers, entertain gentlemen from abroa(^. By the 
pious and substantial settlers from the east, of whom 
there were many in the county, his tastes and prac- 
tices were sternly condemned, but even these, -vyhile 
they were offended at his transgressions, , and felt sure 
that no good would come of a state founded by such a 
Romuliis. acknowledged tlie spirit and vigor of the 
man, and were willing to ascribe his failings partially 
to a military and European education. 

He was dark of feature, tall, sWder, and erect of 
figure. His habits were active, and he pleased the 


'-■ foTestersi%fvaultingilightly to his saddle^and scouring 
the, toada at full gaiHop. s . ; 

; Gen.. M:eGlnT«i says, " Col. Williamison was an ex- 
cellent, -higb^minded^il honorable man, generous, hu- 
mane, oiliging and ' courteous to all,, whether richer 
poor. In 1;ruth and ift' fact he was a gentleman in 

-every sense of the word. He was well qualified for 
the duties conferred upon Kimas agent of such an im- 
mense estatev-and for the settlement and growth of a 
new country,' so +long as Sir William Pulteney wtflild 

■'famish the means to improve it." 

' ' . CoL Williamson's objeeteiand niotives in conductiljg 
the affairs of the estate, were not merely those of a 
speculator. His pride and spirit were aroused. In 
invading the wilderness, in hewing, burning, bridging, 
turning and overturning, till the Stubborn powers of 
the forest were conquered, broken on the wheel', and 
hanged: up ivK^errorem, like the rebellious in ancient 
warfare— in- these he found excitement. To stand in 

,"the midst of the mountains, and hear the crashing of 
trees, the ringing of axes, and- the rattling of saw- 
mills — to see wild streams made tame, to see the con- 

. tinuoas line of emigrant barges moving up the lower 

-riivery and to feel himself .the centre of the movement, 
would brighten the wits of a dull man, much more in- 

jyigorate one; so wakirfml as Col. Williamson. In his 
fine, dashing .'way-i he Would carry the wilderness by 
storin. Down witkhtbe woods} down with the hills; 
build bridges.} build ibarrns ; build saw-mills, and shiver 
the forest into slabs* and ; shingles — these were his 
orders, and they express the spirit of his administra- 


tion. In this swashing onslaught' his enthusiasm "was 
fired. Besides, the money which he ecaitroTled, and 
the power which 'he wielded, made him a grfea.t msln in 
the. land. He Baron ofi the Backwoods — -Warden 
of the Wilderness — Hemlock Princer— Kiii^ of Saw- 
mills. There was not a greater .than he in all the land 
of the west. When, .theHeforfej he found himself at the 
/head of' a little state -wHich -might; sometime .beeome 

,,great,,the Napcleomof a war agdirfst tthe'woods, it is 
not wonderful that in the excitement of building Baby- 
Ions, or in the exultation of an Austerlitz among ,the 
pines, he should, be animated' with the thouights and 
emotions which principals, are not aceustomedi to ex- 
pect, in their agents.', 

All these, dashing operations were fine sport to the 
men who rode.onthe whirlwind,, but to the magician 
over thcrwafer, who was expected not only to raise the 
wind,,but to keep it whirling,, the fun was rather ex- 
hausting.;' To support a , missionary of civilization in 
the Atneriean backwoods^ purely out of philanthropy, 
or to'keeip^mateur city-builders in fujids, merely that 
gentlemen might enjoy themselves, were acts of benevo- 

•lencej not, of course,_tD be expected from the British 
Baronet. When, therefore, Sir William Pulten^'be- 
came alarmed at the encroachments upon his fortune, 
and abruptly RtOpped the operations of his viceroy, it 
would be difficult to say what fault could be reasonably 
found with [him for this determination. Considering 
, the remoteness of his possessions, their tenure under 
the supposed uncertain laiws of a republic, and the 
great uncertainty of the enterprise attempted, he did 


no more than a manpf ordinary prudence would have 
don^j inhis situationjin^detprrnimng upon a change lor 
a niodifiQ^ition of policy, and the exercise of J greater 
caiition in his expenditures. ;; .i , 

Time has proved, that Uhe reasons arid expectations 
■which ipduced Col.i<WiUi«|.n5son to undertake his great 
enterprize were ill-founded ; and upon the strength of 
these apknowledgedi^rrors, he is often sweejpingly con- 
deittned as a visionary — a heedlesa, wasteful man, en- 
gaged in business of- which he was ignorant,: and for 
which he had little Capacity*; .Against such hroadand 
nnqualified condemnation we must protest* He found- 
ed his schemes upon the expectation that the tract 
known as the Genesee country would some time be- 
come a region of vast wealth, and that through it the 
products of an indefinite Western country would pass 
to the Atlantic coast. Has time branded, him a 
dreamer for these things 1 His error then, was, in 
mistaking the channel through which Genesee and 
the West would go to the sea-board. But, considering 
the modes of transit known to the world at that time, 
and the shape and position of the navigable waters 
which drained the Genesee, is any one prepared to 
say that there was a flagrant absurdity in pointing 
out the Valley of the Chemung as the destined outlet 
of the undefined Northern country? Most men of 
sense and experience, at the close of the last century, 
entertained this opinion. A prophet, it is trne, might 
have unveiled the future to the Scottish chief, and 
shown him canals and railroads ; but, except the wig- 
wam of the Indian doctor, where the destinies were 

. 216 

questioned by rattling porcufiine-quills, and shaking 
the horns of a buffalo-bull, thefe'was rio o'racle'for the ' 
Western Cadmus to consult; To abuse Col. WilUam- 
son and his coadjutors, for want of common foresight, ■ 
is aa unreasonable as it will be for newspstper'8, sixty 
years hence, to be astounded at ^ the- modern project of 
connecting the Atlantic and Pacific by Railway to San 
Francisco, when " anybody might have seen" that the" 
natural port of the Pacific coast was Nootka Soundy 
and; that the way to get ■ there frOm New York would 
be to take the wires by way of Lake Winnipeg and 
the Sasfiatchawan river. 




The hiiitory of that province over which' those blame- 
li^s sh<}{^erds.oT the people, .the supecvisors of Steu- 
ben County, wave *heir transitory sceptres^ has noyr 
been traced with as much accuracy as the sources of 
information ~permiJ)li4d, from the earliest ages to the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, i It has appearfd 
how, in the most distant times of which record can be 
! borne, that Jregion was covered with the waters of the 
sea ; drifting icebergs then, perchance, scratched the 
tops of the hills, and our home was a pasture where 
.marine herdsmen drove their ungainly cattle — ^whales, 
isea-ilions, Bad mighty serpents lOf the ocean, and the 
shark and the sword-fish .prowled along the trails after- 
wards trpdden by the Indian and the Txiry. It has 
furthermore a;ppeared how the land, being at length 
delivered from [these monsters, ro9e ^tboye the waters, 
received sunlight and showers, was covered with for- 
ests, becaime a iiiding-place of wild beasts and barba- 
rians, and l^y in silence through.many centuries, being 
pleased with the murmur of Its forests and the rushing 


Bound of its rivers ; how at length the clamors of a 
strange warfare were heard at a distance, in the val- 
leys of the lower streams, and waxed louder and 
nearer by degrees, until barbarism, " clutching its 
curiously wrought tomahawk," and gathering its fan- 
tastic robe about its form, swept by in full retreat, 
followed by a horde of light-haired men, who assailed 
the wilderness with axes, scathed it with fire,>nd tore 
it with iron harrows. It has appeared how, afterwards, 
a republican baron, coming from the East, built him- 
self a castle out of the trunks of trees, in a broad, 
round valley, begirt with pine and hemlock hillsides, 
and dwelt there in the depths of the forest in ta-ne flh- 
gal style, exchanging defiant missives with potentates 
who claimed fealty, and entertaining all manner of 
errant gentry, from French dukes to Newmarket 
jockeys, with much better grace, in faith, than the 
Front dej^ceufs of the ancient English backwoods, 
while, to complete the similitude, Robin Hood and his 
lusty foresters reappeared on the Canisteo Flats, and 
there renewed the merriments of Sherwood Forest.* 

With the close of this baronial period the present 
chronicle will conclude. Our heroic ages there ab- 
ruptly ended, and modern time set in with a vengeance. 

* Curiously enough, we are able to perfect the similitude, by the 
addition of a Friar Tuck. The first Presbyterian clergyman who 
ministered to the- spiritual wants of the Canisteo pioneers, is de- 
scribed as "a clever, humcrsome man, who cpuld drink grog and 
throw the maul with the best" He was a man of enormous mus- 
cular strength. Preaching once in early days in a warehouse in An- 
gelica, he became so much engaged in his subject that he dashed a 
•tore-d«sk in pieces with his fist. ■ ^"' 


The hiatory of the county, aft&r that epoch, would be 
but a record of the incidents which make up the daily 
life of an inland, obscure, almost inapcessible region, 
as the movements of emigrants, the establishment of 
stage routes, the sessions of supervisors, the burning 
of log-heaps, the building of saw-mills, the excitements 
of courts, trainings and elections — all passing by so 
quietly^hat, but for the clouds of smoke that overhung 
the hills on still, dry days of autumn, or the occasional 
gusts of martial music from rustic battalions, one 
standing without would hardly know that any living 
thing was stirring within the hemlock highlands. A 
few startling interruptions, as the war of 1812 and the 
Douglas affair, disturbed the routine of daily life, but 
the people kept steadily at work from year to year, 
had little intercourse with the world beyond their own 
boundaries except through the medium of newspapers, 
had their frolics without proclamation to all North 
America and the adjacent islands, opened great and 
unsightly gaps in the forest, steered thousands of rafts 
through the cataracts of the Susquehanna, and, devoting 
themselves mainly to the task of transforming the wil- 
derness into meadows and plow-land, did few memora- 
ble things which are discoverable by the chronicler. . 
Let us barely glance at the general progress of the 
county, from the close of Col. Williamson's agency to 
the present time. At the time of the agent's depar- 
ture the county had about two thousand inhabitants. 
The work of subduing the forest had been but begun, 
but the beginning had been made vigorously and with 
good hope. A lumber-trade had been opened with the 


ports 6f the lower SuStjuehanna and the Chesapeake. 
Northern men had begun to bring grain in consider- 
able quantities to Bath fi)r transportation to the mar- 
kets. The locaticte on the Conhocton was yet con- 
sidered highly advaintageous. 

The rupture between the proprietors and the agent, 
though sensibly felt at the scene of his prominent 
operations, was not regarded as hopelessly digastrons 
10 the prospects of the county. The development of 
the agent's plan was far from complete, and the ex- 
periments which he had made were insufficient to de- 
termine whether his enterprises were wisely or un- 
wisely conceived. The fate of " this great Babylon 
which i am going to build" was yet uncertain, and it 
was hoped that, although for the present the progress 
of the town towards an honorable position among the 
cities of the land might be retarded, yet that it would 
ultimately rise from embarrassment and fulfil its des- 
tiny. The air-castle, thou^b rather dingy and dilapi- 
dated, was nevertheless a very fine affair, and was not 
■without power to attract people from afar. After the 
year 1800, many men who might have bought lands 
near Geneva) Canandaigua and Rochester, for a tri- 
fling price, were induced^ by the superior advantages 
for access to a market, theh offered by the valleys of 
Steuben, to establish themselves among our own un- 
gracious hills. Many a farmer now residing in this 
county has the satisfaction of complaining, that had it 
not been for Williamson's balloons, himself or his 
father might have had the site of a city for their corn- 
fields, or perchance would have pastured t^eir flocks 


on the ground now occupied by some stirring village of 
Genesee, Ontario, or Onondaga. 

But the cold water suddenly showered on the deli- 
cate phantoms that overhung the forest — soon scattered 
them. The abrupt drying up of the Pulteney PactOr 
lus, that river of gold which had hitherto refreshed the 
thirsty wilderness, caused the plant which had been 
entrusted to the Pine Plains, to grow up scrubbily. 
A very ignominious metropolis, for many years, was 
the shire-town of the county. It was a quarter of a 
century or more before it began to free itself from its 
deformities, and to cast off its beggarly apparel for 
comfortable garments, and to pick up Grecian, Gothic 
and Italian finery to bedeck itself withal. Indeed, 
immediately after the departure of Baron Williamson 
it was threatened with destruction in a very strange 
manner. The clearings in its vicinity were abandon- 
ed, and a growth of oak of amazing stoutness and ac- 
tivity sprung up. The farmers were fairly over- 
powered, as if by tribes of wild men, and driven from 
their fields. Whole farms were overrun by these in- 
vaders. They even pushed their conquests to the 
edge of the village, and stood insultingly at the heads 
of the little streets, like a horde of marauders, des- 
cending from the hills and pillaging the suburbs of 
some seedy old city, which has barely enough of its 
ancient vigor to keep the brigands outside of the 
gates. The wild beasts re-took possession of the land. 
Between St. Patrick's Square and Gallows Hill was 
good hunting. The owl and the wolf clamored nightly 
for re-?!Bnexation. The bear thrusting his nose through 
^ y 20* 


the garden pickets, snnffed the odors of the kitchens. 
In 1811, the whole space between the village and the 
pine-forest, which encircled it at the distance of about 
half a mile, was overgrown with stout oak stalks, from 
ten to fifteen feet high. A fetv huts, occupied by 
iiegroes, were scattered among the bushes half smo- 
thered, and it was only by sleepless care on the part 
of the citizens that the sprouts were kept down in the 
streets and market-place, and that the whole metropo- 
lis, like a babe in the woods, was not buried in the 
leaves, so xleep that the Vobins couldn^t find it. Ft 
was told then, as a great thing, that a farmer on 
one of the Maretigo farms had raised twenty acres of 
wheat. To such littleness had the standard of great- 
ness shrunken in the abandoned Barony. 

Not only the central village but the whole county 
felt the shock at the dethronement of Col. Williamson. 
He had been the life of the land, and " times were dead 
enough when he left," say the old settlei's. No more 
the Hudson, the Potomac and the Delaware, were 
startled by proclamations of races in the wilderness: 
no more did rum.6r3 of bull-fights and the uproar of 
horns disturb thcgobdly : no more did gallant retinues 
of riders gallop through the forest, while servants fol- 
lowed ^ith luncheons and baskets of wine. Newspaper 
^paragraphs no longer told the citizens of the East of 
great things done in Steuben,* and pamphlets no longpr 
enlightened London and Edinburgh concerning the ca- 
pabilities of the Conhocton river. 

The county was thenceforward ejtpected to work its 
own way out of the woods ; to hew its own ro|fco inde- 


pendence and prosperity ; to scuffle unhelped with 
whatever enemies should seek to trample it to the 
earth. After years of hard, and often of discouraging 
labour, we have gained the uppef hand of the enemy. 
Our county, for so long a time proverbially a " hard 
county" — a kind of rough-handed, two-fisted, ill-fed 
county, an offence in the eyes of Eastern elegance and 
Northern wealth, is rising fast not only to respectabi- 
lity but to consequence, like some great tackwoods 
Jout, who, from a youth of log-rolling and shingle-shav- 
ing, passes to a manhood of judicial or senatorial dig- 

The first forty years of our county's existence were 
years of iron labor. The settlers were poor men, and 
thediscouragementsand difficulties which they met with 
will with difficulty be .appreciated hy coming genera- 
tions, who shall inherit vallieslong'tilled and hills sub- 
dued by years of thorough culture. One long familiar 
with the farmers of the county says : " But /eio com- 
paratively o^f the settlers ever succeeded in paying up 
their contracts and getting deeds for their land. The 
high price of tlve iand and tlie constantly aecnmulating 
interest on their contracts, was more than they could 
hear. They were compelle<l to abandon to others their 
half-cleared farms, disheartened and weary. Most of 
the contracts given by the agents- of the Pulteneys for 
the sale of land were assigned from one to another 
several times, before the whole amouiit of ^the principal 
arid interest due on tliem wastpftid." 

For tlie Vast twenty j'ears wo have occupied the van- 
tage gA^nd, and have been engaged in a work not only 


of subjugation bui; of cultiv^tiion. Hard and discourag* 
ingwork was done during this period, and quite enough 
of the same remains to be done among our stubborn 
hills ; but the increasing independence of the oarlyr 
settled districts and the additional facilities for com- 
munication with, the Outer world, placed us upon the 
whole on the vantage ground, and the work of subju- 
gation went on with greater rapidity and ardor than at 
any time before. Railroads began to encampasS us ; 
a steamboat appeared on the Crooked Lake ; the old 
farming districts began to grow smooth and sightly; 
new wildernesses were invaded ; cattle and sheep by 
myriads fed in the pastures; villages were built, and 
old dingy towns brightened up aiid renewed their youth. 
Various schemes of progress were agitated. Canals 
and railroads were discussed. At ilength the rumbling 
of cars was heard on Shawangunk, then on the Susque- 
hanna, then on the Chemung,-^and the locomotive, ten 
hours from the Hudson, rushed over our glad frontiers 
and discharged the Atlantic mails at the ancient monu- 
mental post of the Senecas. Saw toills arose in every 
pine forest, and in the spring, whe» the snow on the 
hills melted and the ice in the rivers went down to be 
piled in long battlements on the meadows below, 
hundreds of lumbermen came out of the woods, steered 
their rafts of boards, timber and enormous spars down 
the torrents to the Chesapeake ; riding over huge dams 
and rocky tapids, sometimes prosperoasly, and some- 
times shattering their fleets and suffering shipwreck 
and drowning, and all marine disasters which await 
mariners who sail in whaleships and frigates||M| 


" Fifteen yeftrs ago," says the Citizen, in his De- 
scriptive and Historical Sketch, (speaking, in imagina- 
tion, at the beginning of this century,) " standing on 
an exceedingly high mountain, we beheld unbroken 
forests lying west of the Chenango as far as the rain- 
bows of Niagara, and covering the ridges and long 
elopes of the AUeganies. Standing now oh that same 
promontory, behold a change. Broad swathes are 
opened in that meadow of timber. Smoke rises from 
the little chimnies of three thousand cabins, scattered 
among the choice valleys and by the pleasant river 
sides of the wilderness west of Seneca Lake. The 
noise of a myriad of axes is heard this side of the Mo- 
hawk, like the tapping of a host of woodpeckers in a 
grove: flotillas are riding upon the rivers, a long and 
scattered caravan is filing past old Fort Stanwix, while 
New Englanders are afloat in the canoes of Unadilla, 
and stout pioneers are urging upwards the barges of 
Susquehanna. At evening the great forest is dotted 
with lights. Torches glimmer by the cabins. Trees 
are burning where fire runs wild through the woods, so 
that in the mid watch, when the torch-lights by the 
cabins are quenched, you may see afar off a zig-zag 
serpent of flame coiling arOund some mountain knob or 
wandering by the lake shore, or pursuing its shining 
trail through plains and marshes. Two gonnds disturb 
the silence of the night^ — the dnll plunging of Niagara 
in the West, and the distant uproar of Napoleon's 
cannon in the East. But what are all those thunders 
that rock the foundation of the other continent, and 
those ^uiults of kings and cannon, of horsemen and 


jjmsketeers which the iDations hear with, alarm, com- 
pared with that unnoticed war which, is waged in , the 
forest below you !" 

Being unfortunately ignorant of the position of .this 
convenient mountain (which has ,been strangely over- 
looked by the State Geologist^, it will be impossible to 
invite the republicans for whom these chronicles are 
written to look off from, the same at the present day. 
A view from some such promontory or from a balloon 
would enable them to see to advantage the present cour 
ditjon of our county. One looking thus from above 
would behold the upland forests slashed this way and 
that with the most lawless violence, and the principal 
valleys freed from their ancient vegetation except where 
long and crpoked lanes of elm, sycamore, and willow 
mark the channels of the streams, or where groves of 
oak stand jn the midst of the fields, or here and there 
a cluster of maples or a solitary pine alone remain of 
many brethren. 

Nevertheless immense tracts of land are yet covered 
with the forest. Stripes of timber as broad as the 
height of the hills, almost utkbroken for miles, line the 
most cultivated valleys. Many broad districts are al- 
most as wild as at the first. Within a mile of the vil- 
lages and; clean meadows pf the river- valleys, one finds 
yet the rude " settlement^'' and on the further side of 
half the hills in the County are hollows, which in the 
provincial pronounciation of AoZfers are so suggestive 
of hemlocks^ burnt stumps, log cabins, and of what is 
known in despair at the poverty of language as " the 
jumping-off place." There are comparat^^y few 

22 r 

commanditig heights from \i'hich one does riot seem t6 
Bee more forest than farmed land, and there are manjr 
places where one looks across to districts dented with 
ravines and covered with treetops, where the axe ha)3 
hardly begun its mission. 

Forty years ago almost the entire strength of the 
county was in the valleys. Great now is the strength 
of the uplands, and rapidly increasing. The subjuga- 
tion of these obstinate regions has been a labor indeed, 
and to the eyes of the wanderer* from softer lands they 
look as unsightly as the battle-field the day after the 
victory. The black stumps, the rough fences, the is- 
lands and broad girdles of timber, haggled of outline 
and bristling with long bare spikes, and the half-burnt 
trunks of trees, are indeed uncomely. Oiir hill-coun- 
try, however, is calculated from its structure to attain 
generally a good, and often a high degree of beauty, 
when cultivation has removed its primitive roughness. 
A vision of rolling farms divided by wooded gulfs or 
ravines ; of smooth knobs dotted with portly cattle ; of 
clean slopes covered with grain-fields and orchards — 
the whole forming a landscape unsurpassed in rural 
beauty by ancient and renowned counties of the east 
and north, is a dream of the future by no means too 
extravagant to be indulged in. 

Sixty thousand souls now live within the boundaries 
of the county. Twenty villages and upwards are 
scattered through the towns, some of them holding pre- 
tensions to beauty and importance. The great rail- 
way line between the city of New York and the West- 
ern Stales passes up the valleys pf the Chiemung and 


Canisteo, :ffhich, at tb^ village of Corning, is joined 
by two important tributaries — one extending to the 
coal mountain of Pennsylvania where sixty years ago 
Patterson/the hunterj first unearthed the "black dia- 
mond " with his tomahawk— :the Other passing north- 
Ward through the valley of the Conhocton to the Qe- 
nesee and BtiiTalo. Another tributary to the , great 
trunk jsins it at HorneUsville on the Canisteo, which 
also terminates at Buffalo, crossing the Genesee Riye^ 
at Portage Falls. The Canandaigua and Jefferson 
railroad crosses one corner of the county. The Che- 
mung Canal thrusts itself within the county Hqc as far 
as Corning, and the Crooked Lake gives direct com- 
munication with the £rie Canal. 

The dreams of our ancients have not become reali- 
ties, but wonders, of which they did not dream, are 
amongst us. Iron monsters more than any 
that were seen by geologists in the marine herds which 
of old fed on our sunken meadoyrs, ru^ through the 
valleys with wild and discordant shrieks. The hoot of 
the engine, and the roar of ifa chariot, employ the 
echoes of the bluffs. Steamers, and heavy-laden barges 
plow the lakes where once wallowed the Durham boat 
of the pioneer, or skimmed the canoe of the red fisher- 

Let the reflecting republican, before turning from 
the perusal of these records to his saw-mill or meadow, 
consider a few of ;thecomfoi»t8 which thecitiaens of the 
county enjoys to-day, which were unknown to the back- 
woodsman of forty or fifty years ago. 

Then the solUHO^ pettier shared his cl«^j9g with 


the populace of the forest. Those hairy Six Nations, 
the bears, the wolves, the panthers, the foxes, the cata- 
mounts and the weasels, hovered around his narrow 
frontiers to slay and devour. His two or three swine 
or sorry sheep were in nightly peril of the scenes of 
Wyoming. Deer bounded before him in his walk 
through the woods. The fires of Indian lodges glim- 
mered' among the trees at night. — Now his flocks and 
herds range without fear over great pastures. Wag- 
gons roll before his dwelling on the roads which were 
once lonely trails. Lights glimmer at night on all 
sides from farm-house windows. He hears the bells 
in the distant village-steeples. 

Then he was beyond the borders of the Far West. 
Behind him were the Atlantic cities, — before him were 
tremendous wilds which he heard were traversed by 
the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Missouri, rumored to be 
enormous rivers, on the banks of which were brakes 
and plains, possessed by buffaloes, wild horsemen and 
bears. When he went East, people looked at him as 
we now look at the Mormon from Salt Lake, or the 
fur trader from Winnipeg. — Now he is in the fstr East, 
As one standing on the shadow of a cloud sees it glid- 
ing under his feet, and presently beholds it miles away 
on the hill- side, so has the pioneer of Steuben seen the 
" Far West " gliding from beneath his feet, and now 
he beholds it moving up the slope of the Cordilleras. 
He reads of boilers bursting at the Falls of St. An- 
thony, of steamers dashing together at the mouth of 
the Arkansas, of flues collapsing under the Council 

Blufi-s. ' 



Then, in his loiiely clearing, he guessed the hour of 
the day by the sunshine on his cabin floor ; he foretold 
snows, winds and droughts, by the shape of the clouds, 
by 'the vapors at sunset, by the Moon-man's expres- 
sion of countenancc-^Now the clocks of Connecticut 
are ticking in the forlornest hollow : iron pointers, on 
many steeples, publicly expose all irregularities of that 
luminary which governs times and seasons, and aJma-r 
naes calculated "expressly for the meridian of Western 
New York," tell him exactly when to expect freshets, 
and when to look out for hail-storms. 

Then, the trader, bestriding his horse, jpgged off to 
the sea-port through the dark arid disftial roads of the. 
forest, dependent upon the whims of despotic tavern- 
keepers and the tender mercies; of " cross widows'' * 
by the way. His yearly assortnient of goods was. 
dragged in wagons from the Hudson. Now, whirling' 
to the city in a night, he may send up by railway those 
gorgeous fabrics which have superseded the homely 
merchandize of former times ; or the canal boat, laden 
mth his ponderous crates and hogsheads, is tugged , 
through the Northern ditches to the Crooked Lake, 
■where a steamer politely offers his wheel-house, and 
escorts the fair wanderer into the heart of the hills. 

Then, the lumbermen saw the creeks come leaping 
down the ravines like hearty young mountaiiiefira, 
pines stood in the glens like stupid giantsj unconscious 
that they contained cubic-feet and cullings, and thai 
hemlocks made dark the. hill-sides and hollows with 

* Vide McCluro, Norr. 


their worthless branches. Now, the pines are so 
nearly extirpated that their uncouth cousins, the hem- 
locks, are thought worthy of the saw. The creeks 
have been taught useful knowledge and drive gang- 
Diiillsj just as in Pagan islands the missionaries make 
good boys of the little cannibals, and set them at work 
churniug and grindirig coffee. 

Then, the flaxen-haired urchin tumbled in the leaves 
with bear-cubs and racoons ; he blackened his face 
among the half-burnt logs ; he was lost to all sense of 
syntax, but perhaps studied arithmetic at winter in 
the little log-school-house,> and learned something 
about the Chinese wall and the antipodes. Then, the 
patriot saw the country going to ruin, v?ithout having 
it in his power to sound the alarm, for there was no 
county newspaper to trumpet his warnings to " a prof- 
ligate and reckless adftiinistratioh." Now, there are 
school-houses, academies and seminaries^-'^ bulwarks 
■of liberty" — bristling at all points with rhetoric and 
geometry. Three political newspapers ride every week 
the length and breadth of the county, like- chariots 
armed with scythes. Three editors, fit successors of 
the Shiversculls and Brighthatchets of old, brandish 
the political scalping knife, and at times drop their 
ferocious weapons, to touch the lyre of poetry or the 
viol of romance, at those brief intervals when the great 
congressional bass-drum ceases its sullen roar in the 
Republic's capitbl. 

Of the things to be attained by the county at a fu- 
ture day^jwe^wULnntattempt to propfeecy. The chief 
— »grreuliBral eminence now bolJcrcd to'be within our 


reach, is in the dairy line. Distinguished graziers in- 
dulge in dreams of a Buttermilk Age, when the ehurna 
of Steuben will be as renowned as the forges of Pitts- 
burgh, or the looms of Lowell. They publicly assert 
that while our neighbors of Allegany may presume to 
make cheese, and our cousins of Ohio may hope to 
shine in the grease market, it will be presumption in 
them, or in any other tribes west of the Genesee, to try 
to rival the butter of Steuben : that the grass abound- 
ing on our juicy hills possesses a peculiar flavor and 
a mysterious virtue, and will produce most stupendous 
and unparalleled butter ; that while there is much 
grass of the same quality in Chemung, some in Onon- 
daga, and scanty patches elsewhere, the wretched na- 
tives of Ohio are utterly destitute of it, as also are all 
those miserable myriads who extract a substance from 
the herbage of the prairies, which they insanely style 
"butter;" that, feeding upon this grass, calves have 
attained an appalling magnitude ; the ox may, by 
proper encouragement, become gigantic, and the Horn- 
by steer, with his broad horns and deep flanks, will 
be looked upon with unspeakable envy by those rattish 
red bullocks that migrate in such immense hordes, like 
the ill-favored Huns of old, from Illinois and Indiana 
to the New York market.* 

' To the degree of physical prosperity to be attained 
by the county hereafter, one will hardly venture to set 
a limit. Let its citizens, first of all things, have a 
care that they themselves be men of whom the Re- 

« Speech of »• prom Inani agriculturist at a " Raiiroaa 


public need not be ashamed — God-fearing, law-abid- 
ing, intelligent, and free men, and they need not doubt 
that the future will fulfil the promise of the present. 
Failing in this great thing, it would be better that the 
land had remained a wilderness. 

There are a few considerations respecting the rela- 
tions which have heretofore existed, and which have 
not yet ceased to exist, between the citizens of the 
county and the original foreign purchasers and their 
heirs, which may with propriety be here presented. 

It is now about sixty years since the greater part 
of the county became the property of the London As- 
sociates. From that time until the present day, an 
office has been kept at the shire-town of the county, 
for the sale of lands. The lands have been sold in 
small parcels, and upon credit, the purchaser taking 
immediate possession. The most valuable portions of 
the county have thus been long sold : but considerable 
tracts of land are yet undisposed of, and actions 
against shingle splitting, tort-feasors, are yet brought 
in the name of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland 
and King of Hanover. 

As was almost unavoidable, from the nature of these 
relations, there has been no love lost between the citi- 
zens and the proprietors. During the agency of Col, 
Williamson there seems to have been a cordial under- 
standing between the two parties. The original pro- 
prietors were men of generous and enlightened spirit. 
Sir William Pulteney was a statesman of high stand- 
ing. Mr. Colquhoun had alsa mingled in public af. 
fairs, and was distinguished as a philanthropist. The 


administration of the estate in the first years of the 
settlement was conducted with an evident regard for 
the prosperity of the settler, and with a liberality and 
justice on the part of the proprietors which none are 
more ready to acknowledge than those who dealt with 
them. It is since the period of the earliest settle- 
ments that the policy and tone of the alien owners 
have failed to command the respect of the citizens. 

The relation, and the sole relation, which for forty 
years and upwards has existed between the proprie- 
tors and citizens, has been that of sellers and buyers. 
So long as the former confine their claims to consider- 
ation to this relation, it cannot be alleged against 
them that they have transcended the bounds of what 
is considered reputable amongst men of business. 
They have required high prices for their lands, it is 
true, even the very highest prices that could be borne, 
but to demand high prices for lands or chattels is not 
considered an offence against the rules of reputable 
dealing amongst men of business. No one is compel- 
led to buy. It is true that men have been required to 
fulfil their agreements with the land-holders, and, ic 
default thereof, have been made to suffer the legal 
consequences, but neither against this can one, accord- 
ing to the settled maxims of common dealing, object. 
The law gives the right, and it is the practice of men 
to avail themselves of it. There are many large land 
proprietorships in the United States. We do not 
know that the administration of the generality of these 
is characterized by any greater degree of liberality 
than is that of the Pulteney and Hornby estates. The 


proprietors of the latter have certainly not insisted 
upon their strict legal rights, but have habitually re- 
frained from exercising the utmost stringency which 
the letter of the law would permit, and have many 
times granted indulgence to those in delinquency which 
they were not bound to grant. Whatever causes of 
quarrel may have existed between purchasers and 
agents of the proprietors are not fit subjects of com- 
ment here ; we speak merely of the general policy of 
the owners in administering the affairs of the estate, 
and hold that so long as they are content to confine 
their claims to consideration to their character as sel- 
lers of land, it must be admitted that they have con- 
formed to the rules of common dealing amongst men. 
But if, beyond this, they should have the effrontery to 
lay claims to public gratitude for services rendered to 
the county in its days of toil and privation, or should 
demand credit for liberality in the administration of 
the affairs of the estate, of a higher tone than is ge- 
nerally exercised in this lower world, these pretensions 
would be simply preposterous. We do not know that 
any such claims are put forth. , The only concern of 
the proprietors has been to get as much money as it 
was possible to get, and whether settlers lived or 
starved has not, so far as human vision can discern, 
had a straw's weight in their estimation. Many in- 
stances no doubt there have been of kind consideration 
on the part of employees of the estate, and some of 
these gentlemen have merited and obtained the respect 
of those with whom their business brought them in 
contact, but the general spirit of the administration of 


the successors o-f the original proprietors, considering 
it as a matter affecting the interests of a little State, 
has been mean and narrow. A frank, generous, and 
considerate bearing of the proprietors, it' is perhaps- 
safe to say, would have obviated nearly, all of that hos- 
tility of the people which it is so easy to ascribe whol- 
ly to democratic cupidity and jealousy. The alien 
proprietorship deserves no thanks from the public, and 
probably will never think it advisable to ask for any. 
It has been a dead, disheartening weight on the 
county. The undeniable fact that a multitude of 
hard-working men have miserably failed in their en- 
deavors to gain themselves homes^have mired in a 
slough of interest and instalments, leaving the results 
of their labors for others to profit by, should be of it- 
self sufficient to shame the absurd pretension of pa- 
tronage, if it is ever put forth. The young county, - 
full of a rude and indomitable vigor, gained its present 
position of independence by work and courage, and in 
spite of the incubus which rested upon it. It has to 
■'thank no human patron for its victory. 
" And it is well that this -is so. It is well that strong 
arms and stout hearts have achieved the conquest of 
this wilderness, unaided by patrons, either at home or 
abroad. Fight makes might. The discipline of a half 
a century of poverty and tedious labor has made this 
people stronger of heart and hand than they would 
have been if the hemlocks had snapped like icicles, or 
the hills had proved softer than old meadow lands, .or 
the apparitions of foreign Peers had hovered in the air, 


smiling encouragement to indigent squatters, and shak- 
ing showers of silver from the clouds. 

There are certain other considerations arising from 
the relations which have so long existed between the 
citizens of the county and the foreign proprietors which 
may be here presented. No state of things can be im- 
agined more offensive to democratic prejudices than 
that created by the relations existing between the peo- 
ple of this county and the heirs of Pulteney. Few 
stronger temptations to disregard the rights of prO' 
perty and to advocate something akin to that Agrarian- 
ism so much dreaded in republican communities by 
those distrustful of popular rule, are often presented to 
a populace, than such as arise from the tenure by 
foreign Lords of immense tracts of land in a country 
heartily hostile to everything savoring of aristocracy. 
No lawlessness would naturally be more readily ex- 
cused by the popular sense than that which repudi- 
ated the European claims of title, and formed illegal 
combinations to harrass the proprietors, and to set at 
nought the edicts of lawgivers, and the process of 
courts in their favor. What can be imagined more 
annoying to democratic feeling than to see, as the ora- 
tors sometimes tell us, the money of republicans, earned 
by desperate labor, rolling in incessant streams to the 
treasuries of British Lords^the sufferers thereby be- 
lieving, at the same time, that these rivulets of coin 
are kept up by some kind of jugglery. What group 
would so well serve the purposes of the orator and the 
demagogue, as that of poor, brave and free-born farm- 
ers standing in the posture of serfs to foreign Nebu- 


chadnezzars 1 What better pictures to adorn the 
popular harangue, or the County's Book of Martyrs^ 
fiometimes opened before sympathising juries, than 
those of foreign Nebuchadnezzars riding over the necks 
of prostrate democrats; of foreign Nebuchadnezzars 
plying the rack, the boot and the thumbscrew to the 
" unterrified ;" of foreign Nebuchadnezzars hunting 
shingle-splitters ■with bloodhounds and janizaries, 
throwing farmers into fiery fiirnaces and dens of lions, 
and making a " St. Bartholomew's" among the squat- 
ters 1 

That under these circumstances defrctive foreign 
titles should have been amended by the Legislature of 
the State, and the rights of the proprietors carefully 
I'cgarded and repeatedly asserted ; that the tender mer- 
cies of the commonwealth should have reached such a 
olimax of tenderness as to relieve the proprietors from 
the payment of taxes on their wild lands and to rebuke 
^s unrighteous and impertinent the demands of the 
settlers that these indigent aliens should share in the 
maintenance of the roads by which they profited, and 
•of the courts which they crowded with their suits ; that 
for sixty years their office should have stood unmo- 
lested and unthreatened in the midst of a populace 
doubtful of the legality of their claims and aggrieved 
by their perseverance in a policy which is popularly 
considered unjust and disreputable ; that their agents 
have never been flagrantly insulted, nor their foresters 
thrown into mill-ponds ; that the process of the courts 
has seldom been illegally impeded and never effectual- 
ly resisted, and that juries have never refused to reni- 


der for the proprietors verdicts required by the law 
and the facts ; that by a community abundantly intel- 
ligent to form unlawful combinations which would se- 
riously disturb the operations of the land agency, no 
such unlawful combinations have been formed, but that 
the only remedies sought for that which was believed 
to be unjust and oppressive, have been by application^ 
to the legislatures and by defences in the courts. These 
are things which those who tremble for the sacredness 
of property in republics will do well to consider. 

The duty of the citizens to the alien proprietors is 
plain ; to urgo an observance of it would be justly of- 
fensive. There is no disposition in the mass of citi- 
zens to grant the proprietors aiiything'less than justice. 
Law will be regarded^ rights will not be disturbed ; 
public faith will not be violated, and to urge in this 
case the practice of common honesty would be in the 
highest degree insulting. So long as the courts and 
the legislatures recognize the title of "the proprietors, 
the people will not discredit' the commonwealth by ille- 
gal resistance to authority. 

Amidst all the causes of vexation which encompass 
us, there are yet various pleasant reflections for the 
exasperated republican to console himself withal, not 
the least of which is, the certainty that we shall in due 
time be delivered from the feudal phantoms which have 
so long beset us. 

The mill-wheel turned by water never rests, but the 
institution that goes by land must sooner or later stop 
grinding. The water that pours through the floom 
goes down to the sea, but rises again in fogs and va- 


pors; it ascendf to the clouds ; the winds blow it land- 
ward; it falls again upon the hill tops, and again pours 
through the floom. For the land office there is no such 
hope. The element that keeps its wheels in motion 
never evaporates. Acres of gravel do not readily be- 
come clouds and rain themselves again into the Duke 
of Cumberland's pond ; and section lots, especially if 
they contain a ton or two of mountains, are most dis- 
couraging materials for a fog to feed upon. The re- 
publican, therefore, terrified or uiiterrified, may confi- 
dently look forward to the time when the coronets of 
English Peers will no longer glitter in the air, greatly 
to the disturbance of the public temper, when " arti- 
cles," " instalments," " interest," " assignments," 
"back payments," and all the terms of that unpopular 
vocabulary will become dead language ; when the de- 
puty sherifi^'s occupation will be gone, and when Er- 
nest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of 
Hanover, having been honestly and fairly paid for that 
•which the law declares to be his, will beg no more the 
thunder of the courts to avenge, or the shield of the 
legislatures to protect him, but will abandon his title- 
deeds, discharge his stewards, and vanish forever be- 
hind the fogs of the Atlantic Ocean. 



It will not be necessary to speak of the history, 
laws or customs of the Six Nations in this volume j 
sufficient information for present purposes, as to those 
matters, is possessed by the popular mind. Steuben 
County constituted a part of the domain of the Sene- 
cas. The Indians with whom the pioneer had inter- 
course were iiom the North, and visited this region 
only to hunt. Many hundreds of them came in the 
winter from the Genesee, and even from the Niagara, 
built their lodges around in the woods, and killed deer 
for their summer's stock of dried venison, and other 
wild animals for their peltry. 

The complement of a hunting lodge varied accord- 
ing to circumstances. Sometimes a solitary old sav- 
age made his wigwam apart from his brethren, and 
hunted, fished and slept in silence ; sometimes the neat 
lodge of a couple of young comrades might be seen on 
some little island of the river, and sometimes the woods- 
man came upon a camp-fire blazing in the forest by 
iright, where a score or more of hunters, squaws and 
children were eating and drinking in a very free and 
comfortable manner. The Indian " at home" was not 
often found by the pioneers to be that taciturn and im- 


movable Roman which the romancers paint him. When 
before the fire of his wigwaqi with a half-a-dozen com- 
panions, he talked, laughed and joked, and had an 
odd habit of making a meal every quarter of an hour) 
as if afflicted with a chronic hunger, putting his hand 
into the kettle, or fishing up with a sharp stick a piece 
of venison as big as his fist at every pause of the con- 
versation, till the young settler, witnessing this per- 
petual banquet, feared that he would kill himself. ,He 
did not talk in riddles or allegoric like those whale- 
bone braves who stalk through the novels, but was of- 
ten inclined to be shrewd and cqmical in his language, 
and sometimes loved practical jokes not of the most 
delicate order. 

During the first few years of the settlement, many 
of the inhabitants were uneasy at the presence of the 
Indians. Some prepared to leave the county, and a 
few actually did leave it from apprehension of an at- 
tack. After the defeat of Harmar and St. Clair, in 
the Northwestern territory, the savages were often 
insolent and abusive, but Wayne's victory on the Mi- 
ami, in 1791, put an end to their plots, and they af- 
terwards conducted themselves with civility. Some of 
the settlers, however, were not entirely assured for 
several years. The wives of many of the emigrants 
-from the East, unused to wild life, and familiar with 
the terrible fame of the Six Nations, lived in constant 
alarm — not an inexcusable fear when a score or two 
of barbarians came whooping to the cabin door, or rais- 
ed the midnight yell in their camp by the creek-side, 
till even the wolves were ashamed of them. 


The intercourse between the settlers and Indians, 
were generally friendly and social. The latter, how- 
ever, had occasion sometimes to complain of lodges de- 
stroyed and furs stolen, and of other annoyances to bo 
expected from civilized men. A hunter living at the 
Eight Mile Tree, (Avoca,) wished to drive the Indians 
from a certain hunting ground. These Native Ameri- 
cans were singularly reluctant to labor, and lather 
than chop down a tree for fuel, would walk half a mile 
to pick up an armful of scattered sticks. Founding 
his scheme upon this trait of character, the hunter cut 
a great many branches from the trees in the vicinity 
of their camps, bored augur-holes into them, filled the 
orifices with gunpowder, plugged them carefully, and 
strewed these treacherous engines through the woods. 
The Indians knew not what good spirit to thank for 
this miraculous shower of fire-wood, and gathered a 
great supply for their lodges. The disasters that fol- 
lowed were unaccountable. Now a loud explosion blew 
a quart of coals into the face of some mighty chief — 
then another hidden magazine being kindled, filled the 
eyes of the presiding squaw with dust and ashes, and 
another hoisted the pot off the fire, or hurled the roast- 
ing venison into the basket where the papoose was 
sleeping. The wood was plainly bewitched. Timber 
with such fiery sap was not to be endured. The Indi- 
ans abandoned the neighborhood with precipitation, 
and left the hunter in quiet enjoyment of his forest- 

There were some occasions when the Indian was 
seen in his glory, arrayed in flaming blankets, adorn- 


ed with plumes and medals, girt with curious belts, 
from which glittered the knife and tomahawk. Thus 
shone the warriors on their return from the Con- 
vention at Newtown, in the winter of 1791.* But 
after a few years of familarity with civilized men, the 
savage was seldom seen ahroad in ancient style. The 
braves were inclined to become utter vagabonds, and 
gradually adopted that mixture of civilized and savage 
dress, which it is not going too far to pronounce 
ehocking. Romance was horrified. The '' dark-eyed 
forest-belles," so dear to poetry, looked like stage- 

The traffic in liquors here, as elsewhere, proved 
ruinous to the unfortuate Indians. A large portion of 
their game was bartered for spirits. A favorite place 
for their carouses at Bath was in the bushes at the 
edge of the village, opposite the present jail. Hefe, 
floundering in the under-bush, howling, singing and 
screaming all night, they suggested vivid and singular 
dreams to the sleeping villagers. On such occasions 
the squaws, like considerate wives, stole the knives of 
their lords, and retired to the woods, till the fainter 
and less frequent yells from the bushes announced that 
the " Romans" were becoming overpowered by sleep. 
The townsmen were sometimes amused at their fishing. 
A half-a-dozen Indians wading up the river, and push- 

* Mr. David Cook, a settler of Painted Post, met, -while moving 
up, 300 Indians on the Chimney Narrows, who were going to the 
Treaty. On their retm-n they were detained for a long time at 
Painted Post by a great snow-storm, till they could make enow- 
shoes, greatly to the annoyance of the settlers. 


ing a canoe before tlieni, would spear their boat half- 
full of fish in an incredibly short time, and sell their 
cargo for a mere trifle. The spear was but a pole 
with a nail in the end of it. 

About thirty years ago, Mr. Joshua Stephens, a 
young man of Caftisteo, was found dead in the woods, 
having been shot by: two rifle balls. The murder had 
been evidently committed by Indians. Two of these, 
nam^d Curly-eye and Sundown, were arrested on sus- 
picion of hftving committed the deed, and were after- 
wards tried at Biath. The aflUir created a great sen- 
sation, and the trial was attended by a large concourse 
of people. Red Jacket and other prominent chiefs 
were present. The evidence against the prisoners 
was of a strong character, but they were acquitted. 
After this event the Indians became shy ^ad evacuated 
the county, and never again returned except in strag- 
gling bands. 

We have been told, on pretty good authority, of an 
" Indian-hater" living near the mouth of Mud Creek, 
in the town of Bath, many years ago. A settler in 
that neighborhood was requested one morning by one 
of his neighbors to go out to the woods and help him 
bring in a large buck which he had shot. Oncom- 
ing at the designated place, the hunter opened a pile 
of brush, and showed his companion the dead body of 
an Indian. He said that his father's family had been 
massacred by the savages in the Revolution, and since 
that event he had killed every Indian he could meet in 
a convenient plaed. This was nearly the twentieth. 



The Indians and their institutions can. Upon the 
. whole, be spared from our social system, though there 
are not wanting those who find it in their hearts to de- 
plore the decay of both — ^melancholy thing to think 
of, truly. Yet, when it is considered how many of' 
their practices were irreconcilable with the maxims of 
distinguished jurists, the most enthusiastic admirer of 
barbarism must admit that the preservation of the 
statutes and ceremonies of the Long House would be 
attended, at least, with inconvenience. The tomahawk, 
the scalping knife and the javelin, are properly, we 
think, excluded front the accoutrements of a well- 
dressed, civilized man, and we are quite sure that an 
enlightened public opinion would frown upon that grave 
and respectable citizen, who, out of respect for the 
earliest inhabitants of the county, should appear at 
town-meeting, at churCh, or at any other public as- 
semblage, painted with red paint and black, d-ecorated 
with porcupine quills, and arrayed in a crimson blan- 
ket. A cultivated community will always entertain 
sentiments of reverence for ancient fashions, and for 
the customs of former generations; yet, would not 
such a spectacle as that of the, elderly gentlemen add' 
clergy of the county, shrieking, howling, and dancing 
the grand War-Dance around a post in the Public 
Square of the shire town, fill the mind of a judicious 
man with melancholy forebodings with regard to the 
sanity of such elderly gentlemen and divines'? There 
are yet certain vestiges of the ancient tribes for which 


men of taste and leai-ning earnestly plead — the names 
•which they attached to their lakes, rivers, towns and 
castles. Whether deep' and sonorous as Otsego, Ni- 
agara, Cayuga, Tioga, Onondagua, or light and musical 
as Una^illa, Wyalusing, Canisteo, Susquehanna, or 
ahrupt and warlike as Mohawk, Conhocton, Shemokin, 
Tunkhannock, the names given hy the Six Nations, 
•were sweet or heroic of sound. The barbarous dialects 
•which give us Penobscot and Passaraaquoddy, or the 
still more atrocious Chattahooohie, Okechobee, Tom- 
bigby, Withlacoochie and other frightful words which 
prick the Southern ear, (though atoned for by the 
noble Alabama, Catawba, Savannah,) and the utterly 
heathenish Michilimacinac, Pottawoitamie, Oshkosh, 
Kaskaskia and Winnipeg, of the North West, are fit 
for Ghouls, and " men whose heads do grow beneath 
their shoulders." 

A lecture may profitably be read on the subject of 
names to people of our own and adjoining counties, and 
in doing so we do . but echo what has been frequently 
proclaimed through Other trumpets. The American 
map looks like a geographical joke. We name our 
towns after all heroes, from Hector to General Lopez — 
after all patriots, from Maccabeus to Daniel Shays — 
after all beasts, birds, fishes, and creeping things— ^to 
which there is certainly no objection, but one tnay 
plead that when we have exhausted Plutarch's Lives, 
and the Pension Roll, a few of the fine old Indian 
names may be recovered. In our own county, the 
musical and forest-like Tuscarora, was changed firStJto 
Middletown, which caused confusion in the mails, (that 


popular name having been fairly grabbed by other 
towns which were so lijicky as tp 
tweeu two placesj) and afterwards to Addison, in 
honor, probably, of the essayist, who never saw a 
stump, a raft, or a saw-mill. The post-office of Tobe- 
hanna was lately changed to Altai, which is' a moun- 
tain range in the antipodes, and would lead strangers; 
to suppose that Tyrone was settled by Siberians.., Our 
neighbors of Chemung; bepame. disgusted at the odd, 
but significant and historical name of Horse-heads, 
(being the place-where Gen. S^ljivan killed his horses,) 
and elegantly changed it to Jair-por^, indicating, we 
suppose, that scows on the Ghemung Canal are there 
secure from tempests. . It is unfortunate that the 
schoolmaster was out of town when the change was^ 
made, for the oifending Saxon might have been dis- 
guised under the magnificent syllables of Hippocephali. 
At the head of Seneca Lake lived for many years a 
famous Indian Qae^n, Catharine Montour, a half- 
breed, and surmisedjto have been a daughter of Count 
Frontenac. Her ullage was known far and wide as 
Catharine^s Town. They now call it Jefferson — an 
act of " proscription" vfhich the great republican 
would have scowled at.* Painted Post will probably 
have to go next under the reign of refinement — a capi- 
tal name, suggestive, historical and picturesque. If 
it is desirable to be known abroad, citizens of that vil- 
lage will' do well to let the name stand as it is, for 

* The actual village may have been a little out of town — but that 
makes no difference. 


while Painted Post will arrest the stranger's eye more 
quickly perhaps than any other name on the map of 
Western New York, if this is changed to Siam or 
Senegambia, Ajax or Coiriolanus, or any other title 
which the fashion of the day requires, the Painted 
Posters cannot hope to be distinguished from the mob 
of citizens who dwell in villages bearing the names 
of foreign kingdoms, and heroes of the " Silurian 

Similar advice is ready for our neighbors at the foot 
of Crooked Lake whenever it may be called for. 
Penn- Yan is undoubtedly a very queer Word — rather 
Chinese at least — and when pronounced with the 
favorite twang of our ancients, Pang Tang, the sound 
is as clearly "celestial" as Yang-Kiang, and the 
stranger would expect to find the village adorried by 
Mandarins and Joshes, and to see the populace, from 
the seniors down, diverting themselves with kites,- 
fire-crackers and lanterns. For the relief of puzzled 
philologists, however, it may be ^plained that the 
word was not imported in a tea-c1»est, but Avas made 
from the first syllables of the words Pennsylvanian and 
Yankee, and indicates the races of the first settlers. 
It should by no means be disturbed. 

It is a pity that so many fine villages of Western 
New York are saddled with names absurdly borrowed 
from the Old World. It would seem as if Congress 
had granted bounty lands to heroes of the Trojan and 
Punic wars ; at all events, the names of those old 
veterans are affixed to more townships than there were 
sons of Priam Bufi^alo, Oswego, Canandaigua and 


Genesee, are almost the only towns of importance, 
•which have escaped the Greeks and Romans. 

Our own county must confess itself to be destitute' 
of European or classical townships, but can yet boast 
of very illustrious neighbors. We have but to step 
over our Northern boundary to " see Naples and die." 
The distance from Naples to Italy, though greater 
here than it is in Europe, is. yet but inconsiderable, 
while the distance from Italy to Jerusalem is less than 
in the Old World. In fact,. the city of David hero 
abuts the land of Csesar. On the Eastern side of the 
county behold the hero Hector, a brown Republican 
farmer, shaking no more the bloody spear as he looks 
from his orchards into the wa,ters of Seneca, having 
long since exchanged the chariot for ithe horse-rake. 
His old antagonist, Ulysses, has located his land- 
warrant in the next range. On the West Ossian 
howls his humbugs in the latitude of Loon Lake, and 
Saxon Alfred lives unmolested by marauding Danes. 
The Spartans have colonized the adjoining corner of 
Livingston County, and appear to have quite given up 
black broth and laconics. The Athenians are to be 
found at the mouth of the Chemung,* and when the 
up-river raftmen, whooping and yelling, steer their 
rafts down the spring-flood, the citizens of the town 
are probably reminded of the time when the Goths 
came with similar uproar through the Hellespont, and 
sacked their city — a blow from which, judging from 
the present state of the fine arts at Tioga Point, it 

* Athens, at the mouth of th& Chemung, was formerly Tioga 
Point. The old name shows sense, the new one the waBt of itr 


would seem that the seat of the muses never re- 

Crooked Lake is the translation of Keuka, the ab- 
original name. CojiAoc^oti signifies come-together. It 
is sometimes erroneously rendered Trees -in-the-water. 
Five Mile Creek was formerly called Canoni. Gen. 
McClure says that Bath bore the name of Tanighna- 
guanda, by no means a euphonious one. Chemung is 
said to mean Big-hone> The tradition that the iden- 
tical bone by which the name was suggested, was 
taken from the river-bank by boatmen after the settle- 
ment must be erroneous. The Indians had a village 
and corn-field near Elmira, at the time of Sullivan's 
expedition, named Chemung, and the river was called 
the Ghemung Branch.TFurther information concerning 
the aboriginal names of localities in this county we 
cannot give, and would be glad to receive. 


It is said in a manuscript, consulted in the prepara- 
tion of this volume, that " Many of the hunters esti- 
mated that there were from five to ten deer on every 
hundred acres of land in the county, or in that propor- 
tion throughout the country over which they hunted. 
The probability is, that this estimate would not be too 
higli for many parts of the forest which were favorite 
haunts of the deer, but then there would be other tracts 
which they frequented but little, so that for the whole 
extent of territory embraced in the present limits of 
the county, equal to about 900,000 acres, it would 


probably be correct to estimate that at the first settle- 
ment of the country, there were, on an average, as 
many as four deer for. every hundred acres of land — 
making the number within the present limits of the 
county, not less than 36,000. 

. An intelligent and respectable man, who came from 
Pennsylv-ania among the first emigrants from that 
State, used to relate that in the fall of the year 1790, 
or, 1791, two young, men came from near Northum- 
berland up the rivers in a canoe, on a hunting expedi- 
tion, built a lodge at the mouth of Smith's Creek, on 
the Conhocton, and hunted in that neighborhood. In 
. the course of two months they killed upwards of two 
hundred deer, several elk, some bears and three pan- 
thers. Elk were at that time quite numerous in most 
parts of the county, and were found soutli of the 
Canisteo River, ten or fifteen years after. They also 
killed a number of wolves, foxes and martins, and a 
few beaver. The hunters preserved as much of the 
venison as they could, and with that and the skins 
they had taken, they loaded two large canoes, and 
early in the. winter returned to Northumberland, where 
they sold their cargoes for upwards of $300. 

Sixty years of persecution with hounds and rifle have 
not exterminated the deer ; but, as may well be be- 
lieved, the buck that now shakes his boms in the 
forest, does so with little of that confidence with which 
in former times his predecessors tossed aloft their 
antlers. In twpnty -four hours his ribs may be smok- 
ing on the dinner-table of a hotel, his hide may be 
steeping in the vats of the mitten-makers, and his 


horns may be grating under the rasps of the men that 
make cane-heads and knife-handles. In the days be- 
fore the' conquest, notwithstanding the depredations of 
the wolves and Indians, the deer constantly increased 
in numbers, or at least held their own, and lived in a 
high state of exhilaration. It was a fine sight, that of 
a full-grown buck racing through the woods, clearing 
" fifteen to twenty feet, often twenty-five feet, and 
sometimes more than thirty feet of ground, at a single 
jump." The last elk killed in the county was shot 
in the town of Lindley, about yorty years ago. 

As for the wolves, history despairs of doing them 
justice. They deserve a poet. How they howled, 
and howled, and howled ; how they snarled and snap- 
ped at the belated woodsman ; how they killed the 
pigs and the sheep ; how they charmed the night with 
their long drawn chorus, so frightful that " it was 
enough to take the hair ofif a man's head," and yet so 
dismally hideous that it could not but be laughed at 
by the youngsters— -all these must be imagined ; words 
are too feeble to do justice to the howling of one wolf 
in the day time, much less to the howling of ten wolves 
at night, in the depth of a hemlock forest. Each pack 
had its chorister, a grizzled veteran, perhaps, who 
might have lost a paw in some settler's trap, or whose 
shattered thigh declared him a martyr for the public 
good. This son of the Muses, beginning with a for- 
lorn and quavering howl, executed a few bars in solo ; 
then the whole gang broke in with miracles of discord, 
as in a singing school the full voiced choir shouts in 
chorus, after the teacher has shown them ," how that 


chromatic passage ought to be exbcuted." All the 
parts recognised bjthe 'scientific, were carried by these 
" minions of the moon." Some moaned in barytone, 
some yelled in soprano, and the intermediate discords 
were howled forth upon the night air in a style that 
would make a jackall shiver. The foreign musician, 
awaked' from his dreams by such an istnthem, might 
well imagine himself fallen from a land where the Red 
Republicans had it all their own way, and having abro- 
gated the rules of i-ythm and dynamics, with other 
arbitrary and insuiferable vestiges of the feudal system, 
had established musical socialism. The wolves and 
their howling linger more vividly than any other fea- 
tures of the wilderness in the memory of old settlers. 
It is only within a few years that they found the lartd 
too hot for them. It is not a great while sinte the 
citizens of the shire town were occaBionally' behowled 
from the Rollway Hills^ and among those who, fifteen 
years ago, were very young school-boys, the memory 
is yet green of that day when the weightiest and' grav- 
est of the townsmen, with many others who were not 
quite so weighty and grave, sallied forth with the 
avowed purpose of exterminating the wolves which 
lurked in the surrounding hills — a' campaign barren 
of -trophies ihdeedj bat which must have carried dis- 
may into the councils of thiS enemy, and convinced 
them' of the uselessness of opposition to their " mani- 
fest destiny." A few members of this ancient family 
may yet lurk in the yiili corners of the country, but 
th6 more discreet have withdrawn to the solitudes of 


The panthers have vanished, hide and hair, leaving 
a reputation like that of the Caribs. The " painter " 
in lack of lions, must always be the hero of desperate 
hunting tales, and were it not for the too well estab- 
lished fact that his valor was rather freely tempered 
with discretion, he would be a highly available cha- 
racter for the novelists. Except when wounded, they 
were not feared. Though powerful of frame and fe- 
rocious of face, they belied physiognomy and were 
generally quite willing to crawl off, or at most to stand 
at bay when met by the hunters. This forbearance, 
it must be confessed, arose not so much from sweet- 
ness of temper as from a bashfulness which almost* 
amounted to cowardice. They disappointed the ex- 
pectations of their friends, and invariably forsook their 
backers before coming up fairly to the "scratch." 
However, the fierce face, the lion-like proportions, (they 
were from seven to ten feet long,) and the collusion of ' 
the novelists, have proved too much for the truth, and 
the "Great Northern Panther" at this day rivals in 
popularity Captain Kyd and Black-Beard. When 
exasperated by wounds ke . showed himself worthy of 
this high favor, but under ordinary provocation he was 
scarcely more terrible than a wood -chuck. For in- 
stance, a housewife, who owned Ireland as her native 
land, while attending to her domestic duties in the 
cabin, heard signals of distress among the pigs. On 
going out to gee what had befallen her porkers, she 
found a fine shoat attacked by a panther. It was evi- 
dently the first acquaintance of the robber with 
animals of this species, for as often as he sprang upon 


the back of his '•prey, the pig squealed dismally, and 
the panther bounced off in amazement, as if he had 
alighted upon a hUt stove. The lady ran screaming, 
and Tvith arms uplifted, to rescue her pig, and the 
" Great North American Panther," instead of anni- 
hilating both pig and " lady-patroness" on the spot, 
scrambled into the top of a tree with evident alarm. 
The woman sent her husband straightway to fetch 
Patterson the hunter with his rifle, and stood under 
the tree to blockade the enemy. Several times the 
latter offered to come down, but his intrepid sentry 
, screamed and made such violent gestures, that the 
panther drew back in consternation. The hunter came 
in an hour or so and shot it just as it took courage to 

The bear, too — ^the wise, respectable and indepen- 
dent bear was, in early times, a citizen of substance 
and consideration. Statistics concerning him are 
wanting. Disturbed by bone-breaking bullets in his 
berry gardens and plum orchards, blinded by gusts of 
buckshot that blew into his face as he put his head out 
of his parlor window, punched with sharp sticks by 
malicious youngsters as he sat nursing his wounded 
hams in the seclusion of a hollow log, plagued by 
ferocious traps which sometimes pinched his feet, some- 
times grasped his investigating nose with teeth of steel, 
assailed in his wooden tower by axe-men hewing at it9 
basis, while boys with rifles waited for its downfall — ■ 
the bear, we say, distressed by a line of conduct that 
rendered his existence precarious, emigrated to the 
mountains of the Key Stone State in disgust. 


As for the lessaer tribes, known as wild-cats, cata- 
mounts and lynxes, there w^re flourishing families of 
thfls^ creatures in all parts of the land, and they are 
still occasionally heard from in the outer districts. 
The last one worthy of historical notice prowled for a 
time in the interior woods, but his head at last, pre- 
eminent amfrng the heads and tails of racoons and 
Tyood-chucks, adorned the Log Cabin of Bath in the 
picturesque election of 1 840. 

There were but few beaver remaining in the streams 
at the t^me of the settlement. The lively trade in 
peltry which had been carried on between the Indians 
and Europeans was attended with a disastrous loss of 
fur to those poor greatures. In 1794: there were a few 
beaver remaining in Mud Lake, but the renowned 
Patterson set his eye upon them, and soon appeared 
on tjie harmonious shores of that secluded pond with 
bis arms full; of traps. Seven of the beaver were 
caught, the eighth and last escaped with the loss of a 
paw. These were the last beaver taken in this 
county. , About twenty-five years ago a single beaver 
appeared,, in the Tioga, and even showed; his nose on 
the the old trapper. He was a traveller. He 
visited various parts of the river, as agent perhaps for 
some discontented colony on another stream, but 
probably discouraged by the farms and. saw-miUs, left 
the upper waters and appeared next in the lower 
Chemung. He imprudently went ppon an island of a 
snowy morning; Canisteo raftmen; tracked him to a 
<jorn-stpiit, beset, slew and;s.kinned him, and delivered 
his hide to the hatters. The streams, though depopu- 


lated of beaver, abounded with fish, and contained for 
many years fine shad and salmon. -<' 

Rattlesnakes yrill conclude this ca»talogue of wor- 
thies. It has been previously intimated that these 
deadly reptiles flourished in certain places in large 
tribes. To say that there were thousands of them in 
the Conhocton valley among the pines, would be to 
speak modestly. The incident related of Patterson, 
the hunter, in a previous chapter of this volume, is 
sometimes told in a different form. It is told on ex- 
cellent authority, that he and his dog were going down 
the river trail, and killed rattlesnakes by daylight, till 
the odor of them made him sick, and till his dog, which 
was an expert snake-fighter,- refused to touch them any^ 
more — (an active dog will dance around a snake,' dash 
suddenly in, snatch it up in his teeth, and shake it to 
death.) — It then becoming dark, he took the river and 
waded two miles to its mouth. There is another story 
touching snakes, which history will not willingly let 
die. The hero of the tale, it may be prSmiS^d, was 
the narrator of it, and the sole witness to the facts. 
An old settler of this country was once jom-neying 
thrdugh the woods, and when night came, found him- 
self in a district infested by rattlesnakes, numbers of 
which were twisting their tails in the bushes in great 
indignation. Fearful that if he lay on the ground he 
Would wake up in the morning with his pockets full of 
snakes, (for they are extremely free to snug up to 
sleepers on chilly nights, to enjoy the warmth of the 
human body,) in which case, it would be a delicate thing ' 
to pull them out, he placed a pole across two crotched ' 


stakes, and slept on the pole, tlis slumbers were sound 
and refreshing. In the morning he found himself on 
his roost with no serpents in his pockets, his boots, his 
hat, or his hair, and observed, jnoreover, that, during 
his sleep, he had unconsciously turned over from his 
right side to his left. 

So much for rattlesnakes. Concerning other kinds 
of serpents — black sdakes, racers, and the like of which 
there was no lack in this bailiwick, we have nothing to 
offer — not from disrespect, but from ignorance. 

The chase^as we have seen, was not often attended 
with peril ; yet there were times when the hunter was 
obliged to move briskly for his life. The wounded 
panther was a dangerous enemy. Men have been kill- 
ed by them. A noted Ganisteo hunter once hurt one 
of these animals with a rifle ball, and it sprang upon 
his dog as the first adversary it met. Knowing that 
himself woiild be the next victim, the huntfer closed 
with the ferocious beast ar(d killed it with his knife. 
As it lay upon the ground after the fight, eight feet or 
more in length, it looked like a lion, and the hunter was 
astonished at his boldness. ' . . . , 

A Justice of the Peace in one of the outer towns had 
once occasion for a littlfe practicej' not provided for in 
the " Magistrate's Manual." Relieving his judicial 
cares by the pleasures of the chase, he one day met a 
great panther which he severely wounded, but 'did not 
immediately cripple it. The monster, enraged 'at the 
tort, attacked him furiously. The plaintiff in the ease 
found himself unexpectedly made defendant. The 
books suggested no proceeding for relief in such a 


strange turn of affairs, and he w^s o])liged to fall l)Sfgk, 
on first, principles. H^ deal); a rousing blow ■with hia 
gun, and r then dexterouslj- seized^ t^ip panthpr's, tail. 
A novel action ensued, which was neither trover nor 
replevin. The plaintiff, though partially disabled, had 
jet so much of his former enormous strength, .that, 
when he turned with a savage growl to bite the defen- 
dant, the latter, by jerking with all his might, baffled 
the manoeuvre of his antagonist. This odd. contest, 
worthy of record in the " Crockett Almana,c," lasted 
a good while — jerking this way, jerking that way, re- 
joinder and sur-rejoinder, rebutter and sur-rebutter — 
till at, length the panther became so weak from loss of 
blood, that the guardian o^ the people's peace could 
work the ropes with, on© hanci ; when resuming his po- 
sition as plaintiff, he speedily entered up final judgment 
against the, defendant wit^>a hunting knife, and seized 
his scalp .for costs. This is-, a true story, (as also are 
all other stories in this bpqk) and can be proved by a 
Superyisor, a Justice of the, Peace, and a Town Clerk. 
' A, pajiisteo hunter was once watching a deer lick at 
night. A large tree had partjaUy fallen near tho; 
spring, and be seated .himself in its branches several 
feet above the ground. , No deer caim^e down to drink. 
T^owards midnight the tree was, isbjaken by the tread of 
a visitor. It was a huge panther, whic.h slowly 
Wi^Jl^e^jUp the trunk and sat down on its ihaunches 
within,, a very few ya,r4s of the^hmi.ter. The night 
was^ cl^jivand the moon was shining, but the uneasy 
deej-slayer could not see,|^he forward eight, of his gun, 
ai)d dill not like to attempt the delicate feat of send- 


ing a bullet to the heart of such a lion so decisively 
that there would be no snarling or tearing of his throat 
afterwards. All night long they sat in mutual con- 
templation, the hunter watching with ready rifle every 
movement of his guest; while the latter, sitting with 
the gravity of a chancellor, hardly stirred till day- 
break. As soon as the light of morning brought the 
forward sight in view the rifle cracked and the panther 
departed life without a growl. 

Wolves seldom or never were provoked to resist- 
ance. The settler walking through the woods at dusk,, 
was sometimes intercepted by a gang of these bush- 
pirates, whom hunger and the darkness emboldened to. 
snarl and snap their teeth at his very heels ; but w 
stone or a " chunk of wood" hurled at their heads was> 
enough to make them bristle up and stand on the de- 
fensive. They were generally held in supreme con- 
tempt. We hear of a bouncing damsel in one of the 
settlements who attacked half a dozen of them with a. 
whip, just as they had seized a pig and put them te- 
flight, too late, however, to save the life of the unhappy 

The buck, under certain circumstances, was a dan- 
gerous antagonist. The following incident is given irt 
a manuscript heretofore alluded to : " An individual 
who eventually became a leading man in the, county 
and a member of Cohgress, once shot a buck near 
Bath. He loaded his gun and walked up to the fallen 
deer, which was only stunned, the ball having hit one 
of his horns. When within a few steps of it, the deer 
sprang up and rushed'at him. He fired again, but in, 


the hurry of the moment missed his aim. He then 
clubbed his gun and struck at the rhead of the infu- 
riated animal, but it dexterously parried the blow with 
its horns and tnocked the rifle out of thp huriter's 
hand to the distance of several yards. The hunter 
took refuge behind a tree, around which the deer fol- 
lowed him more than an hour, lunging at him with his 
horns so rapidly that the gentleman who "eventually 
went to Congress" could not always dodge the blow, 
hut was scratched by the. tips of the antlers and badly 
bruised on his back and legs, and had almost all his 
clothes torn off. He struck the deer several times 
■with his knife indecisively, but when almost tired out 
managed to stab him fairly just back of the shoulder. 
The enemy hauled off to repair damages but soon fell 
dead. The hunter threw himself upon the ground 
bitterly exhausted, and lay several hours before he had 
strength ,tp go home. A man thus assailed was said 
to be " treed by a buck." 


There are few tribulations of the new country about 
Twhich old settlers , are more eloquent than those con- 
nected with " going to mill." Grist mills being fab- 
rics of civilization, were not of course found in a wild 
istate along the primitive rivers. The unfortunate savr 
age cracked his corn with a pestle and troubled his 
head i>ot at all about bulkheads and tail races, and, 
although his meal, was in consequence of a vej'y indif- 
ferent quality, yet it may be: a question if this was not 


compensated for by the freedom of the courts of the 
Six Nations from those thrilling controversies about 
flush-boards, and drowned meadows, and backwater on 
the wheel, which do in modern times confound the two. 
and thirty Circuit Judges of the Long House. 

In 1778, a grist-mill and saw-mill belonging to the 
Indians and Tories, at their settlement of Unadilla, the 
only mills in the Siisquehanna valley in this State, 
were burned by a party of rangers and riflemen. In 
1790, four mills are noted on the map of Phelps and 
Gorham's Purchase, one in T. 8, R. 3 ; one in T. 10, 
R. 4 ; one at the Friends' Settlement near Penn Yan ; 
one in Lindley town on the Tioga. Shepard's mill on 
the Susquehanna, a short distance above Ti<iga Point, 
was tha.main dependence of our settlers till they built 
mills for themselves. The people of Painted Post and 
Canisteo took their grain down to tha,t mill for several 

There was, however, one truly patriarchal engine 
which answered the purpose of the grist-mill in times of 
necessity which it would be ungrateful not to remem- 
ber. That backwoods machine known as the Plump- 
ing Mill, the Hominy Block, the Samp Mortar, or the 
Corn Cracker, is now as obsolete ^ engine as the 
catapult or the spinning-wheel. The gigantic , red 
castles that bestride our streams rumbling mightily 
with their wheels arid rollers, while their mill-stones 
whirling day and night, crush the grains of a thpusand 
hills, are structures entirely too magnificent to be men- 
tioned with a homely plumpirig-mill. Nevertheless^ 
granting all due deference to these portly and respect- 


able edifices, historians will insist ,that their rustic pre- 
decessors be remembered with some degree of kind: 

The Plumping Mill was made after this wise. Fropj 
the outer edge of the. top of a pine stump, and at a 
little distance within the extreme edge, so as to leave 
a rim of about half an inch in breadth, augur holes 
were bored toward the centre of the stump pointioig 
downward so as to meet in a point several jnches below 
the surface. Fire was placed on the top of the stump, 
which, when it had eaten down to the augur holes, was 
sucked according to' atmospherical laws, through those 
little mines and burned out the chip or conical block 
nicely, leaving a large deep bowl. This was scraped 
and polished with an iron and the mill was ready for 
the engine. The engine was a very simple one of about 
two feet stroke. From a crotched post a long sweep 
was balanced like the swale of an old-fashioned well. 
A pole, at the end of which was a pounder, was hung 
from the sweep, and your mill was made. The back- 
woodsman poured his corn into the bowl of the stump, 
and working the piston like one churning, cracked his 
corn triumphantly. Modern mills, with all their gor- 
geous red paint and puzzling machinery, are uncertain 
affairs at best — nervous as it were and whimsical, dis- 
turbed by droughts and freshets, by rains and feigh 
winds like rheumatic old gentlemen : there is always a 
screw loose somewhere, and their wheels need "fix- 
ing " almost as often as the " wheels of government." 
But the sturdy old Plumping Mill was subject to no 
such whimsies, no more than the men of the frontiers 


were to dyspepsia, or the TvOmen to hysterics and tant- 

The reflectiug citizen will duly honor the old Plump- 
ing Mill. It is the pioneer engine. It can even now 
be heard thumping, on the edge of tha Far West, 
thumping on the outer edge of. the Canadas, and so 
will go, stoutly thumping its way, across the Rocky 
Mountaina to the Pacific. 


At the commencement of the War of 1812, 
the standing army of our country was a much 
more respectable corps than it is at the present 
day. Either from modern degeneracy or from our 
superior enlightenment, the appearance of a pha- 
lanx of militia in any public place in this noon 
of the nineteenth century, is a signaj; for universal 
laughter. Forty years ago it was not so. Then the 
army of Napoleon could not i have been much more an 
object of respect to itself than the rustic regiment 
which paraded yearly in each important village of 
Western New York. There were many independent 
companies of horse, rifles and artillery. The oflScers 
took pride in the appearance of their men, and the men, 
inst^d of indulging in all manner of antics, were dis- 
posed to keep their toes pointed at a proper angle, and 
to hold their guns with the gravity of Macedonians. 
The militia was respected, and men of reflection beheld 
in it a great bulwark to defend the republic against the 
demonstrations of the Five Great Powers, and other 


monarchical phantoms which hovered before the eye* 
of our vigilant forefathers. The plume, the epau- 
lette, the sash, were badges of honor. To be an officer 
in the militia was an object sought for by respectable' 
men. The captain was a man of more consequence 
than he would have been without the right to command' 
forty of his neighbors to ground arms, and to keep their 
eyes right. It was a great addition to the importance- 
of a leading citizen that he was a colonel, and enjoyed 
the right of riding upon a charger at the head of half 
the able-bodied men of the county ; and the general 
galloping with his staff from county to county, dining 
with the officers of each regiment, and saluted by the 
drums and rifles of five thousand republicans, was a 
Bernadotte, a Wellington ; and, if a man of tact and 
vigor, carried an important political influence. 

The social constitution of this ddmestic army was, 
of course, a different thing from that of the armies of 
the European Marshals. Captains went to logging 
bees and raisings with their raflk' and file, perhaps 
jground their corn, possibly shod their horses. Colo- 
nels and generals drew the wills of their legionaries, or 
defended them in actions of assault and battery and 
ejectment in the courts, or employed them on their arks, 
or bougbt their cattle. They were dependent upon the 
men they commanded for elections as Sheriffs ortUon- 
gressmen. The inferior officers might be hailed by 
their myrmidons as Tom or Harry, and, though the 
high commanders were generally men of more stately 
character, who were not to be treated exactly with such 
familiarity, yet their relations with the soldiers were 


mot those of Austrian Princes with their drilled boors. 
When, therefore, one of these high field-oflBcers went 
forth to war, and indiscreetly put on the majesty of 
Marlborough, or affected to look upon his men as the 
Duke of York looked upon his, he soon found that the 
social laws of a European army were not to be applied 
to an army of such composition without modification. 
There was occasionally one of these magnificent com- 
manders who, after the war, suffered the consequences 
of his exaltation, and even was in danger of being 
handsomely thrashed by some indignant corporal, who, 
at home, was the equal of his commander, but found 
himself treated very loftily when his former comrade 
commanded a corps upon the line, and snuffed the bat- 
tle afar off. 

The ofiicer was expected to deal liberally with the 
infirmities of his men, and, as one of the popular infirm- 
ities in those times was a sihguhir relish for stimulants, 
the epidemic was treated'after the most approved prac- 
tice of the ancients. The colonel of ten knocked in the 
head of a barrel of whiskey; the general, sometimes 
after review, dashed open his two or three barrels of 
the same delightful fluid, and the whole l^lon crowding 
around quenched their thirsts at these inspiring foun- 
tains ; majors, captains and adjutants, were held res- 
ponsible for ^'small drinks," that the fati<^es of the 
day might be endured with greater patriotism. There 
was, accordiisg to the best information we obtain, one 
regiment in the county at the breaking out of the war. 
On review day the militia from all parts of the county 
met at Bath. 


Three companies of Steuben County militia were 
ordered out for three months' service on the lines in 
the year 1812, two being independent companies of 
riflemen, and liable, as such, to be called at pleasure 
by the government, and the third being a company 
drafted from the regiment. Many who were disposed 
to volunteer, had been carried oif by the recruiting 
officers of the regular service. Captain James Sand- 
ford commanded one of the rifle companies, which be-- 
longed chiefly to the town of Wayne, and the other, 
which mustered about 50 men, belonged to the toWn of 
Urbana, and was commanded by Capt. Abraham 
Brundage. William White, of Pnlteney, was his first 
lieutenant, and Stephen Garner his ensign. Two rifle 
companies from Allegany County were attached to 
these, and the battalion thus formed was commanded 
by Major Asa Gaylord, of Urbana. Major Gaylord 
died on the lines. After his death, the battalion was 
commanded by Col. Dobbins. The drafted company 
was composed of every eighth man of the regiment. 
Capt. Jonas Cleland of Conhocton, commanded. Sam- 
uel- D. Wells, of Conhocton, and John Gillet were 
lieutenants, and John Kennedy, ensign. 

These icompanies reached the frontiers just at the 
time whem Col. Van Rensselaer, with an army of 
militiaj wks about to make an attack on the works and 
forces of the British at Queenstown Heights. 
Cleland, with many of his. men, volunteered to cross 
the boifcdai*y. 

As to the movements of the Steuben County militiia 
on that day, there are discrepancies in the accounts of 


tiie actors. We give Mie story of the ensign, after- 
wards Major Kennedjj Sheriff of the countj, a relia- 
ble man, and brave soldier, and, obtained from him as 
related to our informant many years ago. 

The men of the compainyj being ranged on the shore 
of the Niagara nvex at the foot of the precipitous 
bank, were fired upon by the British batteries on the 
opposite side. The grape shot rattled furiously 
against the rocks overhead. The captain advised his 
men to seeik a less exposed position, and disappeared 
with some of his soldiers. He appeared again on the 
field of battle, over the river, in the course of the 
forenoon, and complaining of illness returned to the 
American side. Lieutenant Gillett and Kenneily re- 
mained under the fire of the British batteries with 
most of the men, crossed the river, and went into the 
battle. The former was well known through the county 
as " Chief Justice Gillett," an eccentric oratorical man, 
a Justice of the Peace sometime, and a practitioner in 
the popular courts. Upon him devolved the command 
of the company. It was doubted by some whether 
this Cicero would make a very good figure upon the 
battle field, and whether his chivalrous flourishes and 
heroic fury would not sjuddenly fail him at the scent 
^of gunpowder. What was the surprise of the men when 
' the " Chief Justice," as soon as he snuffed the British 
sulphur, rushed into the fight as if he had just found 
his element, whirled his sword, bellowed savagely with 
his coarse, powerful voice, u^ged on the men, clieered 
and dashed at the Britons like a 'lion. ' The soldiers 
were astonished to find themselves led by such a 

chevalier. Even after receiving a dangerous and 
almost mortal wound, he faltered not, but swung his 
hat, brandished his sword, andl continued his outlandish 
uproar till he fell from pain and exhaustion.* 

Ensign Kennedy, after . the fall of the lieutenant, 
took command of that part of Capt. Cleland's company 
Trhich crossed the river, and of a few others, hastily 
formed into a company. At one time they were op- 
posed to the Indians, whom they drove before them 
into a wood. While exchknging an irregular fire with 
these enemies among the trees, Benjamin Welles, .u 
you^ man from Bath, who stood beside Kennedy, 
looking over a fence, was shot through the head and 
mortally wounded. At the final engagement in this 
random, bat often gallantly-fought battle, Kennedy, 
with his men, were ranged in the line formed to meet 
the British reinforcements, which were just coming up. 

* Old soldiers tell of a militia captain from a neighboring county, 
wlio 7a8 engaged in tlie same battle, and was in some respectfs a 
tnatch foi' the fighting Chief Justice. He "was a physician by pro- 
fession — a dissenter from the establishment, however, never haviftg 
taken a degree — and accustomed to garfiish his conversation with the 
' most sonorous language. In battle, he made good his words, and 
fought bravely. He went ^nto the fight in, full uniform, adorning 
himself with great care, and from this circumstance became a mark 
for the Indians, who supposed that sutsh a blaze of finery must cover 
tk least a Major General. He was last seen by his men engaged in 
single combat with an Indian, slashing manfully with his sword, 
while the savage danced around him with a hatchet, watching a 
chance to strike. The next day the Indian made his appearance oe- 
fore the prisoners,' Clad in the 'g;(H-geous raiinent of , the captain:' He 
strutted to and fro with great self-admiration, and was not entirely 
sure that he had not slain the President of the United Statet^\' 


" Bill Wadsworth," aa their general, was known to 
the mjlitia, (upon whom the command devolved after 
the fall of Van Rensselaer,) went through their lines, 
in a rough-and-ready style, with hat and coat off, ex- 
plaining to the inexperienced officers his plan. To 
avoid the fire of the British the men were ordered to 
retire below the brow of the hill upon which they were 
ranged, and up which the enemy would march. When 
the British appeared on the top of thte hill the; militia 
were to fire from below. 'I'he slaughter, would be 
great ; ; they were then to charge bayonets, ani(f«i the 
confusion might be successful, though the decfiiveness 
of a charge of bayonets up a hill algainst veterans, by 
militia, who before, that day had never been under fire, 
might well have been doubted. The first part of the 
plan succeeded famously. As the British appeared 
above the hiil a fire was delivered which was very de- 
structive ; but a misapprehension of the word of com- 
mand by part of the line caused disorder. The fire 
was returaed by the enemy. The militia suffered a 
Considerable loss, and fell back overpowered to the 
river, where the most of them were made prisoners. 
Of the Steuben County men two were killed and three 
wounded. , ^ 

It is popularly told, that on this day Ensign Ken- 
, npdy was engaged in personal combat with a British 
officer, and being unacquainted with the polite learn- 
ing of his newly-adopted profession, was speedily dis- 
armed ; that he immediately closed with his cOnfbund- 
ed antagonist, knocked hi,m down with his fist, and 
made him prisoner. The hero of the story, however, 


is said to have denied it. He was present at other en- 
gagements, and gained the reputation of a cool and rfe- 
fi0].Hte«X)£6cer. At ithe sortie of Fort Erie he: served 
-"with distinction. It was here that, niider a close, and 
-keavjfire,£e paced to and fro by the head's of his inep, 
■who Had been ordered to lie flat on the ground to 
avoid the balls — not for a vain exposure of his person, 
but " being an officer," he thought " it wouldn't do." 
In the stecond year of the war two companies were 
drafted from the Steuben County militia, and sent to 
tharNiagara frontier, under the command of < Captains 
Jai&e^Read, of Urbana, and Jonathan Rowley, *f 
Dansville, faithful and reliable officers. Capt. Read 
refused to go as a drafted officer, but reported hiiiself 
to the General of the Division, at the commencement 
of the war, as ready to march at the head of a com- 
pany, as a volunteer, whenever he should be called 
upon. Both the companies were principally levied 
from the Northern part of the county. Of Capt. Row- 
ley's company, John Short and John E. Mulholland 
were lieutenants, and George Knouse and Timothy 
Goodrich, ensigns. Of Capt. Read's company, George 
Teeples and Anthony Swarthout were lieutenants, and 
Jabez Hopkins and O. Cook, ensigns. From muster to 
-.discharge these companies served about four months. 
All of the officers and most of the men volunteered to 
cross the boundaries of the Republic, and were station- 
ed at Fort George. 

We have not succeeded in learning anything about 
the draft for the last year of the war, if any was 


made, nor concerning the militia of this county, )vhO' 
were engaged at Fort Erie. 

The following incident is related by one of the Steu- 
ben County militia who was engaged in one of the bat- 
tles on the line as sergeant of a company. His com- 
pany was ordered into action, and before long found it- 
self confronted by a rank of Old Peninsulars, arrayed 
in all the terrors of scarlet coats and cartridge boxes^ 
"When within a distance of ten rods from their enemies,, 
the militia halted, and were ordered to fire. Muskets 
came instantly to the shoulder and were pointed at the 
Britons with the deadly aim of rifles at a wolf ^nt, 
but to the dismay of the soldiers there was a universal 
" flash in the pan " — not a gun went off. The sergeant 
knew in an instant what was the cause of the failure. 
The muskets had been stacked out of doqrs during the 
night, and a littlo shower which fell toward morning 
had thoroughly soaked the powder in them. It was his 
business to have seen to it, that the muskets viere cared 
for, and upon him afterwards fell the blame of the dis- 
aster. Nothing could be done till the charges wera 
drawn. There were but ,two ball-screws in the compa- 
ny. ■ The captain took, one, and the sergeant the other, 
and beginning their labors in the middle of the rank,, 
worked towards the ends. A more uncomfo;:table po- 
sition for untried militia can h&,rdly be imagined.' , The 
men, as described by the, sergeant, "loofed strangely, 
as he had never seen them before." The British 
yjrought their muskets with disagreeable precision into- 
'position and fired. The bullets whistled over the heads 
of the militia. The British loaded their guns again t 


again the frightful row of muzzles looked the militia- 
men in the face — again they heard the alarming dbm- 
mand, fire, and again two score bullets whistled over 
their heads. A third time the British brought their 
muskets to the ground and went through all the terri- 
ble ceremonies of biting cartridges, drawing i'atorodg, 
and priming in full view of the uneasy' militia. The 
moistened charges were by this time almost drawn^ iand 
when the enemy were about to fire the sergeant stood 
'beside the last man. He was pale and excited. " Be 
•quick sergeant-^be quick for God's sake ! " he said. 
They could hear the British officer saying to his men, 
" Yim fire over their heads," and instructing them to 
aim lower. The muzzles this time dropped a little be- 
low th« former range ; smoke burst forth from them, 
-and seven militia-men fell dead and wounded. The 
sergeant had just finished his ill-timed job, and was 
handifig the musket to the private beside him, when a 
bullet struck the unfortunate man between the eyes and 
killed him. The fire of the British was now return^ 
with effect. Reinforcements came on the field and the 
engagement became hot. An officer on horseback was 
very active in arranging the enetny's line — riding to 
and fro, giving loud orders, and makiiig himself ex- 
tremely useful. "Mark that fellow !" said the ser- 
geant to his right hand man. Both fired at the same 
instant. The officer fell from his horse and was car- 
ried off the field by his men. They afterwards learned 
that he was a Colonel, and that one of his legs trsi|tt 
J)foken. t^ 



In the midwinter of 1814, the bareheaded express- 
rider, galloping through the frozen forests, brings start- 
ling tidings. The British Lion, bounding forth from 
the snow-drifts of Canada, with icicles glittering in his 
mane, has pounced upon the frontiers of the Republic. 
Black Rock is taken ! Buffalo is burned ! General 
Hall's militia have been captured and gerieralTy eaten. 
The supervisors of Niagara County have been thrown 
into the grand whirlpool. The floodgates of invasion 
bave been opened, and the whole standing army of 
Great Britain, with several line-of-battle ships, and an 
irriegular horde of Canadians and Esquimaux, is now 
rolling Eastward with fire-brands and artillery, break- 
ing furniture, shattering flour-barrels, burning cabins, 
blowing up mills, and terrifying the wives and children 
of bur fellow-citizens. 

Since Col. Simcoe, brandishing his two-edged sword 
on the ramparts of Toronto, beckoned those "black war- 
elephants" out of the billows of Ontario, there had not 
been such a martial ferment in our county, as arose at 
this alarming intelligence. Before the horse tail of the 
express-rider vanished beyond the Chimney Narrows, 
the murmur of war arose from the valleys like the 
bumming in a disturbed bee-hive. The Brigadier blew 
his gathering horn, and all the cavaliers and yeomen, 
in the uttermost corners of the county, hurried to their 
regimental mustering grounds. A draft was ordered 
of every second man. 

One battalion mustered on the Pulte^iey Square, at 


Bath. The snow was deep and the wind keen, but the 
soldiers stood formed in a half-moon, with the fortitude 
of Siberians. Col. Haight, mounted upon a black char- 
ger, rode up with great circumstance, and made a vig- 
orous and patriotic speech, calling for volunteers, and 
exhorting every man to go forth to the battle. If hailf 
the corps volunteered, a draft would not be necessar;y. 
Nearly the requisite number offered themselves at once. 
Then, the deluding drum and the fanciful fife began to 
Utter the most sediicing melodies. The musicians 
-again and again made the circuit of the regiment, as if 
surrounding the backward warriors with some enchant- 
ment. Drummers pounded with marvellous energy, 
and the fifers blew into their squealing tubes with such 
extraordinary ardor, that if the safety of the. republic 
had depended npon the active circulation of wind 
through those "ear-piercing" instruments, all appre- 
hensions of danger from the invaders might have been 
instantly dismissed. Occasionally a militia-man broke 
from the line and fell in behind the musicians ; but the 
most of the legionaries who had resisted the first ap- 
peal, stood in the snow, proof against drums, fifes, and 
the Colonel's rhetoric. The draft to complete the 
corps was finally made, and the battalion started for 
the seat of War in higli spirits. A great rabble followed 
their enlisted comrades to Dansville in sleighs. A very 
uproarious column it was. At Conhocton the army en- 
camped. Houses, barns, pens and haystacks, over- 
flowed with fire-eaters. , 
In the meantime the Canisteo country had been wide 
awake. Col. James McBurney, hearing the Brigadier's 

alarming horn sounding its portentous quavers afair ofF, 
mounted his snorting war-steed, andga.tHering'togeifer 
hiss boisterous myrmidbns ' from thS' sawmi^lls and goi^ges, 
set forth in hot haste.* At Dansvillfe, 'the two battal - 
ions met and unitecf. Their descent from thef&fests 
of Steuben was like an irruption; of the jCJoiihs of old. 
The chieftain of Oanisteo opened- tbeiBsttletifterJ the 
ancient fashion, by a single combat in the presence of 
the combined' battalions. A broad-breasted barrel of 
whifekey stoodforth in its wooden mail, made thrice se- 
cure by loops of seasoned hickory. This grim foe the 
undaunted Ostrogoth assailed with an axe, and, at the 
first blow, beat open his head. The barbarians set Up 
-a howl of triumph, and, crowcEng arouiidj drank like 
the Scandinavians out of the skull of thisir vanquished 
en«my. The battle thenbecame general; ' Sti-eetSand 
bar-rooms iresounded with tremendous uproar. Dans- 
Ville was captdred, and her citizens kaew no peace till 
the invadiarssank down, from exhaustion, to dream that 
they had just fought a great battle on the Genesee 
Meadows, in which the British fled before them, scam- 
pered toward Canada like a multitude of rats, ran into 
the Niagara, and were now sailing around in the great 
whirlpool — cannon anxLhorseSj officers, non-commission- 
ed officers, musicians and privates — while the Prince 
Regent, according to the sentence of a drum-head Court 
Martial, was hanging by his heels from an oak tree, 
and the lion and unicorn, yoked like bullocks to the tri- 

* CoL Wm. Stephens, of Canisteo, was his Major, and Cd. J. E, 
Stephens, of HomellsTille, Adjutant. 



umptal car of Colonel Haightj were dragging that vio- 
torious consul around the Pulteney Square of Bath. 

News arrived that ..the invaders had retired into 
Canada. The drafted battalions were .discharged and 
returned again to their homes. The Canisteo. Alaric 
covered the retreat in a masterly manner, and saw to 
it that none of the Steuben County fire-eaters who had 
been put hors du combat by the enemy were left to the 
tender mercies of the Dansvillains. Certain young 
men who were entirely captivated by the free and vo- 
ciferous spirit of the Canisteo and followed the Goths 
of Col. McBurney to their own valley, relate at the 
present day with laughter the adventures of the re- 
treat, and talk of the life and hospitalities • of the val- 
ley with great satisfaction. 

The muster, the march, the carouse, and the retreat 
were the prominent features of this campaign^ of which 
Timour the Tartar might be proud. It was known to 
the soldiery afterwards as the " Battle of Dansville." 




The County of Steuben was detached from the old County of 
Ontario and constituted a separate County in the year 1796. 
At the time of its organization it was divided into six towns, viz : 
Bath, Canisteo, Dansville, Frederioton, Middletown and Paint- 
ed Post. Since the organization, one tier of towns has been ta- 
ken from the western side of the County and attached to Alle- 
gany County, the territory constituting the present town of Har- 
rington and Starkey with part of the town of Jerusalem has been 
taken from the northern towns and annexed to Ya^tes County, 
tind one quarter of a Township, including the village of Dans- 
ville, has been given to Livingston., 


William Kersey, appointed 1796 
James Faulkner, " 1804 
Samuel Baker, " 1814 

Thomas McBuruey, " 1816 
James Norton, " 1823 

Jacob Larrowe, elected 1851. 

Geo. C. Edwards, appointed 1826 
Ziba A. Leland, 1838 

Jacob Larrowe, 1843 

William M. Hawley, 184& 

David McMaster, elected 1847 


George D. Cooper, 


David Rumsey, 


Henry A. Townsend, 


William H. Bull, 


John Wilson, 


William Hamilton, 


Edward Howell, 


Paul C. Cook, 


John Metcalfe, 


Philo P. Hubbell, 


William Dunn, appoiMed 1796 I John Magee, 
JoUn Wilson, "' 1800 J John Kennedy, 




i>ugald Cameron, " 
Jacob Teeple, " 

Howell Bull, " 

thomas McBurney, " 
lazarus Hammond, " 
George McClure, " 
Henry Shriver, " 

John Magee, ■ " ■. 

Gabriel T. 


AlTab Ellas, ", 1828 

George HuntingtOB, " 18*1 

John T. Andrews, " 1834 

Heiry* Brother, ". 1837 

Hiram Potter, " 1840 

Hugh Magee, " 1843 

Henry Brother, " 1846 

Oliver- Allrai, " 1849 

narrower, elected 1852. 

Stephen Kobs, appointed 
Henry A. Townseud, •"■ 1800 
George McOlure, " 1805 
John Metcalfe. " 1813 

James Bruudage, 


Jaoot) Larrowe, elected I85f 

William Woods, appointed' 1827 
Robert Camjibell, jr. " 1835 
David Riimsey, jr. « 1840 
Ansel j. MoCall, •• 1844 
David MoMaster, elected 1847 


Population in 

1790 168 

1800 1,788 

1810 7,246 

Population in 

Population in 

1850 62,969. 






, 6185 




1435 Wheeler, 



1894 Urbana, 



2786 Wiiyne, 













Painted Post, 








WoodhuU, - r. 

















West Union, 






FbankI'IN Fierce, 68S0 





AercB of Land improved 336,981 

" unimproved 338,415 

Cash value of farms $13,581,268 

Value of farming implements and machinery. $ 676,793 


Worses 12,744 

Asses and mules 4 

Milch cows 21,584 

Working oxen 6,744 

Other cattle 27,163 

Sheep 156,776 

Swine , 23,939 

Value of live stock.. , ••■ • $ 2,155,0?9 


Wheat, bushels of .653,484 

Bye, " " 16,033 

Indian corn, " , 297,717 

OatB " " 913,948 

Wool, pounds of 399,543 

P$as and beans, bushels of 45,202 

Irish potatoes, bushels of. 360,725 

Sweet potatoes, " " ....245 

Barley " ".... ,....158,056 

Buckwheat, " " , , 115,390 


Value of orchard products $ 30,565 

Wine, gallons of. 285 

Value of produce of market' gardens, .k > $ 8,740 

Butter, pounds of , .il,918,465 

Cheese, pounds of. , 210,889 

Hay, tons of .v i. 111,S69^ 

(Jlover seed, bushels of. 1,386 

Other grass seeds .4,479 

Hops, lbs. of. 424 

Flax, lbs. of , , , . ^ 16,241 

Flax seed, bushels of. -. ;..;.; 1,276 

Silk cocoons, lbs. of. .2 

Maple sugar, IbS. of 294,897 

Molasses, galls'ns of...ii.... .^3,547 

Beeswax and boney, lbs. of 94,991 

Value of home-made manufactures $ 76,287 

Value of animals slaughtered ..$296,798 


The first European visitants of Western New York were the 
French. Daring the first thirty years of the seventeenth cen- 
tury tbe English made their earliest settlements in New Eng- 
land and Virginia, the Dutch on the Hudson river,^ aad the 
JFrenoh on the , St. Lawrence. One hundred and fifty years 
afterwards the English were lords of the. Continent. - At the 
beginning of the race, however, the French displayed ainor© 
daring genius for adjenture and conquest thanjtheir comp^itorj. 
While the English Colonists were yet doubtfully struggling for 
existence on the Atlantic shores, and the Hollanders, with 
beaVer-Hke prudence strengthened their habitations at Fort 
Orange and New Amsterdam, French adventurers bad ascended 
the Great Lakes, and before the end of the seventeenth century, 
orossed thence to the Mississippi, deccended that river to its 
mouth, and established trading posts and missions half way 
across the continent.* ^ '__ 

* Date of Bartiers Voyage- to Hochalaga (Montreal,) 1534 

" " Settlement at Quebec, 1608 

'• " «' , "Plymouth, 1620 

« " '.' " New York, 1618 

" '• " " Jamestown, 1607 

" '• Marquette's Voyage down the Mississippi, 1673 

I! .'s La, game's Western ExploraAioas. 1682 

During the first oeniary of French dominion in Canada, their 
relations with the fierce proprietors of Western New York were 
not peaceful. Champlain, the founder of Quebec, soon after 
his advent to Canada, gave mortal oflfence to the Five Nations, 
by assisting their enemies, the Hurons and Algonquins in a 
battle near Ticonderoga, whore the fire-arms of the Europeans 
gained for their confederates vietory over the Iroquois. From 
that time down to the beginning of the eighteenth century, the 
implacable enmity of the red leaguers harrassed the colonists of 
Canada. The expeditions of the French Governors into the 
territory of their foes gained for them little beside disgrace. 
From about the year 1700, however, the influence of the Jesuit 
missionaries, and the prudence of the Governors preserved peace 
between the former beligerents, and neutrality on the part of 
the savages in the contests of France and Great Britain. When 
the great rivals joined in the final struggle of 1754, the four 
Western tribes <rf the Six Nations* even took up the hatchet for 
the French. Ten years later the English were supreme in 
North America. 

In 1771 the county of Albany embraced all the northern and 
western part of the province of New York, and extended from 
the Hudson river to the Niagara. In 1772 the county of Tryon 
was formed. It embraced all that part of the state lying west 
of a North and South line running nearly through the centre 
of the present county of Schoharie. It was named in honor of 
Sir William Tryon, the provincial governor. The boundary 
between the British and Indian territory as agreed upon in the 
treaty of 1768, l^n from Fort Stanwix, near Oneida Creek, 
Southward to the Susquehanna and Delaware. 

The settlement of this district was commenced early in the 
18th century, when nearly three thousand. German FM,tinates 
emigrated to this country under the pationage of Queen Anne. 
Most of them settled in Pennsylvania; a few made their way 
in 1773 from Albany over the Helderberg to the bottom laltids 
of Schoharie (;reek and there effected a settlement. Small 
colonies from here and from Albany established themselves in 
various places along the Mohawk, and- in 1772 had extended 
as far up as the German Flats, near where stands the village of 
Herkimer. . 

In 1739, Mr. John Lindsay, a Scotch gentleman, founded the 
settlement at Cherry Valley, which in a few years became tha 

*The Tuscaroras joined the Five Nations in J713, 


home of a most worthy and intelligent community, moftly'of 
Seotoh and "Scbtoh-Irish" origin. 

The galla-nt family- of Harpeta settled at Harpersfield in 1768, 
and about the same time settlements- were planted near Una- 
dilla, and scattered families took upt their residence in other 
districts. The population of Cherry Valley was short of three 
hundred, and that of all Tryon county not far from ten thou- 
sand inhabitants when tho.'Revolution opened.' 

For twenty .years prewous to' the Revolutionary war, Sir- 
William Johnson lived at Johnstown, the eapital of Tryon 
county, by far the most notable man bearifig a British eommia- 
sion in the American -provinces. Emigtating f?om Ueland in 
the year 1737, as agent for the Mohawls; estate of liis uncle. 
Sir Peter Warren, h^ early obtaiaed-disbinguashed reputation 
and influence — rose to high military command,-, and in the -last 
French war, by his victory over Baron Ke'skau, at Lake George, 
and his Successful seige of Fort Niagara, gaine~d fame, fortune, 
and a Baronetcy. From that time till near the rupture between 
the Crown and the Colonies, he lived at Johnson Hall, near 
Johnstown, Superintendent of Indian affairs for the Northern 
provinces, with princely ' wealth and ppwer, displaying an 
administrative genius superior to any whioli had before b.een at 
the service of the British government itv America. In the 
year 1774, an Indian Council was held at Johnstown, at which 
were present a, large number, of the warriors ol the Six Nations, 
besides many high civil dignitaries of the provinces of .New 
York and New Jersey. In the midst of the council Sir William 
suddenly died. On the l3th of July he wag borne from the 
Hall to his grave, followed by a great concourse of citizens and 
Indians, '«ind lamented by all. 

At t^' time of his decease, his department included 130,000 
Indians, of whom &5,420 were fighting men. The Six Nations 
numbered about 10,000, and had two thousand bold and skillful 
warriors. Colonel Guy Johnson, son-in-law of the late Superin- 
tendent, succeeded Sir William in this important post. 

In a few months the long gathering political ngitations of the 
Eastern provinces broke out into open and determined rebellion. 
The patriots of Tryon county hailed with enthusiasm the tidings 
from Boston, and met to express sympathy with their friends in 
New England, and to organize for similar measures. Guy 
Johnson became the lesider of the loyalists. Sharp discussions 
and correspondence between him and the revolutionary com- 
mittee followed, and in a few months Colonel Johnson abandoned 
his resideaoe at Guy Park, and attended by a forpiidable body 

of Iiulian and Tery adherents, among whom were Col. Glaus,, 
the Butlers and Brant, made his bead quarters at Fort Stanwix, 
afterwards at Oswego, and finally at Montreal. To the la,tter 
place til- John Johnson, the son and heir of Sir VVilliam, followfid 
hjm with a body of three hundred loyalists, :chiefly Scotch. 

Then followed the blqpdy border wars of New York and 
Pennsylvania. The British Government having determined to 
commit the dastardly and disgusting wickedness of setting tan 
thousand savages upon the scattered frontier settlements of the 
United Colonies, found in the Johnsons and Butlers fit dispensers 
of massacre to the Northern borders. A brief notice of the in- 
cursions into Western New York, must suffice io this place. 

It was not till the campaign of 1777 that the citizens of Try^ 
on county felt the power which hadbeen enlist^^ against them. 
Rumors of savage invasion it is true had alarmed them, and a I'o- 
ported concentration of Indians at Oquago (now Windsor) on 
the Susquehanna, excited at one time much apprehension. In 
July of that year Gen. Herkimer, of the Tryon county militia, 
marchefl to Unadilla with 300 men, and there held anNinter^view 
with Brant, tlie celebrated war-chief, who also appeared with a 
force of warriors. The Indians manifested a decided leaning 
toward the English, and the conference, after nearly becoming 
a deadly afiray, terntinated. 

In a few days afterwards it became necessary for the General 
to issue a proclamation, announcing impending invasion. Bur- 
goyne with his well appointed army of 7,500 regular troops be- 
side Canadian and Indian auxilaries, had reached Ticonderoga 
on his march from Montreal toward N. York, and Gen. St. Leger 
with about 2000 soldiers and savages began his march from 
Oswego, with orders to take Fort Schuyler, and pass-down-tho 
Mohawk to Johnstown, and to fortify himself there, OtTthc '§d 
of August he arrived before Fort Schuyler, and found the garri- 
son under Col. Gansevoort, prepared for a determined resii^tanoe. 
Gen. Herkimer with SOO militia marched to reinforce the garrii 
son. Apprised of this, St. Leger detached a body«bf soldiers and 
Tories under Brant, and Col. Butler to watch his approach, and 
if passible to intercept bis march. A desperate hand-to-hand 
battle was fought op the 6th of. August in the woods at Oriska- 
ny, a few miles from the Port. The militia were surprised, and 
suffered severely for their negligence. The rear division of the 
column gave way at the first attack, and fled. The forward di- 
vision ha,d no alternative but to fight. "Facing out in every di- 
rection they sought shelter under the trees, and jfcujrned the 
fire of the enemy with spirit. In the beginning aPthe battle, 

the IndiaDS, vrhenever tbey saw that a gun wae fired from be- 
hind a tree, rnsbed up and tomahawked the person thus firing 
before he had time to reload his gun. • To coanteraot this, two 
men were ordered to station themselves behind one tree, th« one 
reserving his fire till the Indian ran up. In this way the In- 
dians were made to suffer severely in return. The fighting had 
continued for some time, and the Indians had begun to give 
way, when jyiajor Watts, a brother-in-law of Sir John Johnton, 
brought up a reinforcement consisting of a detachment of John- 
son's Greens. The blood of the Germans bwled with indigna-, 
tion at the sight of these men. Many of the Greens were per- 
sonally known to them. They bad fled their country and were 
now returned in arms to subdue it. Their presence under any 
ciroumstanees would have kindled up the resentment-of these 
militia, but coming up as they now did in aid of a retreating 
foe, called into eseroise the most bitter feelings of hostility. — 
They fired on them as they advanced, and then rushing from 
behmd their covers attacked' them with their bayonets, and 
those who had none, with the butt end of their muskets. This 
contest was maintained hand to hand for nearly half an hour.— 
The Greens made a manful resistance, but were finally obliged 
to give "way before the dreadful fury of their assailants, with the 
loss of thii'ty killed upon the spot" where they firtt entered. "-(jln- 
nals of Tryon County.) 

The Americans lost in killed nearly 200, and about as many 
wounded and prisoners. The Indians according to their own 
statement lost 100 warriors killed;' and the tories and regulars 
about the same number. Gen. Herkimer was wounded, and a 
few days after the battle died. During the battle an efficient 
sally was made from the Fort by Col. Willet, On the 22d of 
August, St. Leger, alarmed at the rumored approach of Arnold, 
abandoned the seige, and retired in great confusion, leaving be- 
hind a great part of his baggage. 

In the summer of 1778, Brant made his head-quarters at 
Oquago and Unadilla, and there mustered a band of Indians and 
Tories, ready for any barbarity which might offer. The inhabi- 
tants of Cherry Valley threw up rude fortifications, of the need 
of which the hovering parties of enemies gave .warning. Sev- 
eral attacks and skirmishes occurred along the frontiers. In 
July of this year, Col. John Butler made the celebrated incur- 
sion into Wyoming. After ravaging that ill-fated valley, Col. 
Batler returned to Niagara, but the Indians again took their 
itatioQ at Qa^uago. In the month of November, Capt. Walter 
Butler, a Bomti the devastator of Wyoming, to gratify a person* 
al resentment, obtained fiom his father a detachment of 200 


" Butler UangeTS," and permission to employ the 500 Indians 
whioh Brant commanded at Oquago. Under circumstances whieh 
proved the Tory commander to be the most pitiless barbarian of 
the troop, their united forces assailed the little settlement of 
Cherry Valley, on the mornins of the 1 1th November. Through 
the inexcusable neglect of the officer in command of the Fort, 
the farmers were surprised jn their houses, with several officers 
from the Fort, who were their lodgers. The commander of the 
post, refusing to yield himself a prisoner, fell by the tomakawk; 
A piteous scene of massacre and devastation followed. The 
Senecas, the most untameable of the savages, with some tories, 
wore first in the Fray, and slew withou* mercy or discrimina- 
tion. Brant and his JVIohawks, less inhuman here than their 
barbarous or renegade allies, plied their hatchets with less fury. 
The buildings and stacks of hay and grain were Sred. The 
troops in the Fort repelled the attack of the enemy, but were 
not strong enough to sally from their intrenshments. At night 
the Indians had begun their march homeward, with about forty 
prisoners. On the following day a detachment of militia p,rriv- 
ed from the Mohawk, and the last prowling parties of Indians 
disappeared. The Annalist of Tryon County says, " The most 
wanton acts of cruelty had been committed, but the detail is too 
horrible and I will notpufSUe if further. The whole settlement 
exhibited an aspect of entire and complete desolation. The 
cocks crew from the tops of the forest trees, and the dogs howled 
through the fietds' and woods. The inhabitants who escaped 
with the prisoners who were set at liberty, abandoned the set- 

*In th€ summer of 1781, Col. Willett met and defeated Major 
Koss and Walter Butler, at Johnson HalL In the rapid retreat 
which followed, Capt. ]5utler was pursued by a small party of 
Oneida Indians who adhered, alone of the Six Nations, to the 
Wlmerican side. Swiming his horse across the West Canada Creek, 
lie ttirned and defied his pursuers. -" An OnMda immediately dis- 
charged his rifle and wonnded him and he fell. Thowing down 
his rifle and his blanket, the Indian plunged into the creek and 
swam across. As soon as he had gained the opposite bank, he 
raised his tomaha^wk, and with a yeU, sprang like a tiger upon his 
fallen foe. Butler supplicated, though in vain for mercy. The 
Oneida with his uplifted axe, shouted in broken English, *« Sherry 
Valley ! remember Sherry Valley !" and then buried it in his 
brains. He tore the scalp from the head of his victim, still quiv- 
ering in the agonies of death, and ere the remainder of the Onei- 
das Bad joined him, the spirit of Walter Butler had gone to give 
up Its account. 'The place where he oroBsed is called Sutlers 
Ford to thig ^j."— {Annals of Tryon Cmnty,) 


During the same year McDoa>ld, a torjr, with 300 Indiana 
and tories was ravaging the DutQh settlements. of Sohqharie,— 
" What shall be done V\ said Col. Harper, the bold partisan, to 
Col. Vroeman, the cOpmander of. the Fort, while the enemy 
were scouring the country around. " 0, nothing at al-l,'i the 
officer replied, '■ we be so weak we cannot do anything." CoLi 
Harper ordered his horse and laid his course for Albany— rode 
right down through the enemy who were scattered over all the 
country. At Fox's Creek he put.up at a tory tavern for the night. 
He retired to bed after having locked the door. Soon there 
was a loud rapping at the door I " WJiat is wanted?' " \Va 
want to see Col. Harper." The Col. arose and unlocked the 
door, seated himself on the bed, and laid his sword and pistols 
before him. In stepped four men. "Step one inch over tliat 
mark," said the Colonel, "and you are dead men." After taljc« 
ing a little time with him they left the room. He again secure 
ed the door, and sat on his bed till daylight appeared. He then 
ordered his horse, mounted and rode for Albany, and the enemy 
were round the house. An Indian followed him almost into Al- 
bany, taking to his heels when the Colonel wheeled and pre- 
sented his pistol. Next morning the Schoharie people heard a 
tremendous shriekhig and yelling, and looking out, saw the en- 
terprising partisan amongst the enemy with a troop of horse. — 
The men in the Fort rushed out, and the country was soon 
cleared of the whole crew of marauders. 

The narrow limits allowed to this portion of the volume, warn 
that no lurthet space can be occupied with a detail of the inci- 
dents of the Border Wars of New York. Jn 1779, Gen. Sulli- 
van made his well .known expedition, into the territory of the 
Indians. During the remaining years of the war the frontiers 
were sorely harrassed. Bands of savages and loyalists incessan- 
tly emerged from the forests to ravage, burn and kill. And if 
they tuoceeded in -bringing dreadful misery upon the homes o£ 
the borderers, it was not without resolute resistance on the part 
of the latter. Uhder the lead of Willett, the Harpers and other 
partisans not less sagacious than determined, the marauders of- 
ten felt to their discomfiture the rifles of the frontiers; and the 
well authenticated traditions of individual daring and adven- 
ture, rival in interest the annals of knight-errantry. 

Soon Sfter the close of the Revolutionary War, emigration be- 
gan to penetrate Western New York from three quarters. Penn- 
sylvanians, particularly inhabitants of the region of Wyom- 
ing, pushed up the Sjisquehanna to Tioga Point, where, diverg- 
ing, some made settlements along the Chemung and Canisteo, 

while others established themselves od the East hranSh of thff 
Susquehanna and its tributaries. Adventurers from the East, 
Crossing from Ne# England or the Huds6n river counties to 
Unadilla, dropped down the river in canoes and settled along 
the Susquehanna or Chemung, or travelled into tire upper Ge- 
nesee country. Yet another'band took the ancient road through 
the Mohawk valley to Oneida Lake, then on to Canadesaga. 
_ la May, 1784, Hugh White passing the boundary of civiliza- 
tion settled at Whitestown, near Utioa. In the same year James 
Dean settled at Rome. In 1786, a Mr. Webster, became the 
first whi^e sdttler of the territory now obmprised in the county 
of Onondaga. In. 1788, Asa Danforth and Comfort Tyler, loca- 
ted at Onondaga Hollow. In 1793, John L. Hardeuburgh set- 
tled on the site of the city of Auburn. In 1789, James Bennett 
and John Harris established a ferry at Cayuga Lake. In 1787, 
Jemima Wilkinson's disciples made their first settlement on the 
outlet of Crooked Lake, one mile South of the present village of 
Dresden. On their arrival at Geneva fromi the East they found, 
says a local historian, but a solitary log house, and that not fin- 
ished, inhabited by one Jennings. 

After the purchase of Phelps and Gorham, of their Western 
estate, Mr: Phelps selected the site at the foot of Canandaigua 
Lake as the centrallocality in his purchase, and the village of 
Canandaigua received its first settler in the spring of 1789. Ma- 
ny others followed during the same season, and in the August 
ensuing the new Village was described as being " full of people 
residents, surveyors, explorers, adventurers. Houses were going 
tip — it was a busy, thriving place." 

In tliefall of 1788, Kanadesaga (now Geneva,) is described 
as having become " a pretty brisk place, the focus of specula- 
tors, explorers, the Lessee Company and their agents, and the 
principal seat of the Indian trade for a wide i^egion. Horatio 
Jones, {the Interpreter,^ was livng in a log house covered with 
bark on the bank of the lake, and had a small stock of goods for 
the Indian trade. Asa Ransom, (the afterwards Pioneer of 
Buffalo,) occupied a hut and was manufacturing Indian trink- 
ets. Lark Jennings had a log tavern and trading establishment 
coveted with bark on the Lake shore. Which was occupied by 
Dr. Benton. There was a cluster of log houses all along|on the 
low ground near the Lake." In 1794, Col. Williamson having 
assumed the agency of the Pultene^ Estate, began improvements 
at Geneva by the'^reotion of the Geneva Hotel. " It was com- 
pleted in December and opened with a grand ball, vvhich furn- 
iehei a memorable epoch in the early history oi the Genes«e 


country. The hotel was talked of far and wide as a wondetrul 
enterprise, and such it really was." In the same year CoL W. 
began his improvements at Sodas. By this time or in a few 
years later^ nearly all the principal towns between Seneca Lake 
and the Genesee river in the northern district of the purchase, 
had received their first few settlers. 

In the meantime the valleys of the Susquehanna and its 
tributaries, had been jpenetrated by adventurers from the South 
and East. In the year 1787, Capt. Joseph Leonard moving up 
the Susquehanna in a canoe with his family from Wyoming, 
made the first permanent settlejnent at Binghamton. In the 
same year Col. Rose, Joshua Whitney, and a few others, settled 
in the same vicinity. The settlement at Wattles' Ferry, (now 
Unadilla village,) a well known locality in the early days, ha.d 
been made sometime previous. , 

The Indian settlement at Oquago, (now Windsor,) as has 
beeil stated before, was, of long, standing^ For a few years pre- 
tious to the French War of 1.7p6, an Indian mission had been 
established there, at the instance of the elder President Ed- 
wards. A small colony of emigrants made a settlement at this 
place in 1785. Jn the^arao year James McMastcr made the 
first settlement at Owego. Tioga Point is said to have been set- 
tled as early as 178Q, but this seems incredible; unl^s the first 
residents wore Tories. The pioneers of the Chemung Valley 
were principally Wyoming people, originally from Connecticut. 
Col. John Handy was the pioneer at Elmira, settling there in 

The Chemung Valley enjoyed some fame before the arrival of 
the pioneers. John Miller, Enoch. Warner, John Squires, Abi- 
jah Patterson, Abner Wells, and' others, are given as the names 
of pioneers of the valley at Elmira and its vicinity; besides Leb- 
beua Hammond, of Wyoming, renowned for personal prowess 
above most of the men of the border. A notice of the settle- 
ments of Chefnurfg, Canisteo and Conhoeton, baa been given in 
the preceding portions of this volume. 

The brief time allowed for the proparation of this sketch, and 
the unparalleled confusion of the otherwise valuable works from 
which our facts must be derived, will compel a random notice 
of the time of commencing the principal settlements remaining 
unnoticed. Rev. Andrew Gray and Major Moses Van Campen, 
with a small colony, settled at Almond, Allegany county, in 
1796. Judge Church, of Angelica, not long afterward, began 
the settlement of Genesee Valley in the same county. William 
and James Wadsworth, emigrated to their fine estate at Big 
Tree or Geneseo from Connecticut, in 1790. 


tt was till about the year 1798, that tbe State Road from Ilti- 
ca to the Genesee River at Avon, by way of Cayuga Ferry and 
Canandaigua, was completed. In 1799, a stage passed over this 
road in three days. In 1800, a road was made from Avon to 
Oanson's, now Le Roy. For many years this old Buffalo Road 
was the centre of settlement. TJhe wide belt of dark, wet 
forest, which extended along the- shore of Lake Ontario fi:om 
Sodus to Niagara, formed a strong-hold of pestilence, which few 
dared to venture into. Not even the ' unmatched hydraulic ad- 
vantages of the Genesee Falls, could tempt the speculator to 
encounter. the fevers, that there unnerved the arm of fiiiterprise. 
It is true that as early as 1790, " Indian Allen," a demi-savage 
fenegade from New Jersey, resuming a sort of oivilizition after 
the Revolutionary war, erected- mills at these falls on a certain 
"ono hundred acre tract" gjven him for that purpose by Mr. 
Phelps, but it seems that the enterprise was premature. — 
Other mills alon^ the line of settlement engrossed the custom, 
and the solitai-y miller had hardly employment enough to keep 
his mill in repair. Sometimes it was wholly abandoned, and 
the chance customer put the mill in motion, ground his own grist, 
and departed through the forest. In 1810, however, settlements 
having been made in the Lake district, abridge was built across 
the Genesee at this point, arid in the following year Col. Na- 
thaniel Rochester^ with two associates Cols. Fitzhugh and Carrol, 
had become the proprietors of AUen^s lot, laid out a village plot- 
and sold several lots. Thus was founded the city of Roohester.- 
In 1817, it was incorporated a village with the name of Roches- 
terville. In 1834, it received its city charter. 

The Holland Company purchased' their great estate west of 
the Genesee of Robert Morris, in 1792, and 1793. Mr. Joseph 
Ellicott, of Maryland, the first agent of this Company, and for 
many years a prominent citizen, arrived in Western New York, 
in 1797. In 1801, Batavia was founded under his auspices. — 
In 1798, there was an insignificant huddle of log houses, not a 
dozen in all, on the site of the present city of Buffalo. The 
possession of the lands at the mouth o£ Buffalo creek, long a fa- 
vorite place of rendezvous of the Indiana, was deemed of impor- 
tance by Mr. Ellicott, and on purchasmg it, plotted there the 
village of New Amsterdam, with its Schimmelpinninck, Stadtnit- 
ski, and VoUenhoven Avenues. 

, , gETttfiR-LIffi. 

The' Editor has had in his possession a manuscript sketch of 
Bettie'r-life, Of much value for its exactness and particularity of 
detail, prepared several years since by a gentleman of accurate 
observation and most just sympathies, himself in early life a 
TTOodf-man and atrue lover of nature, and always a hearty friend 
of the pioneer. It was expected tha,t liberal extracts from this 
manuscript might have been given, but being unexpecitsdly cur» 
tailed in space, We can present but a passage or two. 

k settler's home. 

"As I was travelling through the county on horseback on a 
summer day in an early year of settlement, I fell in compa* 
uy with twogentlemen, who were going in the same directioni 
One of them was the land Agent from Bath, who was going to 
the Genesee river, the other was a foreigner on his way from 
EastOD, in Pennsylvania, to Fresque Isle, (now Erie) on Lake 
Erie. We bad followed in Indian file a mere path through 
the woods for several miles, passing at long intervals a, log house 
Where the occupants had just made a beginning ; when having 
passed the outskirts of settlement and penetrated deep into tha 
woods, our attention was attracted'by the tinkling of a coW 
bell, and the sound of an axe in chopping. We soon saw a lit- 
tle break in the forest, and a log house. As we approached we 
heard the lend barking of a dog, and as we got near the clear- 
ing were met by him with an angry growl as if he would have, 
said, " You can come no fiirther without my masters permis> 
sion." A shrill whistle from within called oS the dog. We pro* 
ceeded to the bouse. A short distance from it, standing on tl\e 
fallen trunk of a large hemlock tree. Which he had just chop- 
ped once in two, was a fine looking young man four or five and 
twenty years of age, with an axe in his hand. He was dress- 
ed in a tow-frock and trowsers, with his head and feet bare. 
The frock, open at the top, showed that he wore no shirt, and 
exhibited the> muscular shoulders and full chest of a very ath> _ 

letic and povfefful man. When we stopped our ItoTses he step- 
ped oS the logj shook hEtnds with the agent, and saluting u8 
fhinkly, asked us to dismount and rest ourselves, urging that 
the distance to the next house was six miles, with nothing hut 
marked trees to guide us a part of the way ; that it was nearly 
noon, and although he~ could not promise us anything very good 
to eat, yet he oould'^ve us something to prevent us Kom suffer^ 
ing with hunger. He had no grass growing yet, hut he would 
give the horses some green oats. .We concluded to accept the 
. invitation and dismounted and went into the house. 

" Before describing the house I will notice the appearance of 
things around it, premising that the settler had begun bis im- 
provements in the spring before our arrival. A little boy about 
three years old was playing with the dog, which though so reso- 
lute at our approach, now permitted the child to push hrm over 
and sit down upon him. A pair of oxen and a cow with a bell 
ouj were lying in the shade of the woods; two or three hoga 
were rooting in the leaves near the cattle, and a few fowls were 
scratching the soil. There was a clearing, or rather oboppiing 
around the house of about four acres, half of which bad been 
cteared off and sowed with oats, which had grovirn very rank 
and good. The other half of the chopping had been merely 
burnt over and then planted with corn and potatoes, a hill be- 
ing planted wherever there was room between the logs. The 
corn did not look very well. The chopping was enclosed with 
a log fence. A short distance from the house a fine spring of 
water gushed out of the gravel bank, from which a small brook 
ran down across the 'clearing, along the borders of which a few 
geese were feeding. 

" When we entered tlje house the young settler said, "Wife, 
here is the land-agenc and two other men," and turning to us 
said, " This is my wife." She was a pretty looking young wo- 
man dressed in a coarse loose dress, and bare footed. When 
her husband introduced us, she was a good deal embarrassed, 
and the flash of her dark eyes and the crimson glow that passed 
over her countenance, showed that she was vexed at our intru- 
sion. The young settler observed her vexation and said, " Nev- 
er mind Sally, the Squire (so he called the agent) knows how 
people have to live in the woods." She regained her composure 
in a moment and greeted us hospitstbly, and without any apolo- 
gies for her house or her costume. After a few minutes conver- 
sation, on the settler's suggesting that he had promised " these 
men something to eat to prevent their getting hungry," she be- 
gan to prepare the frugal meal. Whort V^ first entered tba 


house she satj near the jdaor,,spiniiiDg flax on a little wheel, and 
a baby was lying near her in a cradle, formed of the bark of a 
birck tree, which resting like a trough on rockers, made, a very 
smooth, neat little cradle. While the settler and. his other 
guests were engaged in conversation, I took notice of the house 
and furniture, : The house was about 20 by 26 feet, constructed 
of round logs chinked with pieces of split logs, and plastered on 
the outside with clay. The floors were made of split logs with' 
the flat side up ; the door, of thin pieces split out of a large log, 
and the roof of the same. The windows were holes unprotected 
by glass pr sash ; the fire place was made ofstone. and the chim- 
ney, of sticks and clay. On one side pf.the fire place was a lad- 
der leading to the chamber. There was a bed in one corner of 
the room, a table and five or six chairs, and oh one side a few 
shelves of split boards, on which were a few articles of crockery 
and some iin-ware, and oii one of them a few books. Behind 
the door was a large spinning wheel and a rejel. and over head 
on wooden hooks fastened to the beams were a number of things, 
among which were a nice rifle, powder horn, bullet pouch, toma- 
hawk and hunting Jsnife — the complete equipment of the hun- 
ter and the frontier settler. Every thing Ipoted nice and tidy, 
even to the rough stones which had been laid down for a hearth. 

" In a short time our dinner was ready. It consisted of com 
bread and milk, eaten out of 'tin basins with iron spoons. The 
settler ate with us, but his wife was employed while we were at 
dinner in sewing on what appeared to be a child's dress. The 
settler and the agent talked all the time, generally on the sub- 
ject of the settlement of the country. After dinner the latter 
and his companion took their departure, the one making the lit- 
tle boy a present of a half dollar, and.the other giviog the same 
sum to the baby. 

" I have now introduced to the reader one of the best and 
most intelligent among the first settlers of the county. He was 
a man of limited information, except as to what related to his 
own particular business; but his judgment was good, and he 
was frank, candid and fearless, fie belonged to that class of 
men who distinguished themselves as soldiers dnring our Revo» 
lutionary War, and who were in many instances the descend- 
ants of the celebrated " bold yeomanry of old England," whose 
praises were commemorated by the English bard when he 


" Princes and lords may flourish or may fade, 
A breath can make them, as a breath has made ; 
But a bold yeoH^anry, their country's pride, 
When once destroyed, can never he supplied..'* 


"The social relations and neighborly intercourse of the setr ' 
tier* were of the most kind and friendly character, and proved 
the truth of the common saying that 'people were much more 
friendly in new countries than they were in the old settlements.' 
It was no uncommon thing among them to comply literally with 
the injunction of scripture which requires us 'to give to him 
that afiketh and from him that would borrow to turn not away.' 
Their kindness and sympathy to a^d for ca«h other was indeed 
most extraordinary, and showed a. degree of sensibility which 
we look for in vain in a more cultivated and enlightened state 
of society. At the commencement of the sugar-making perhaps, 
some one in the settlement would cut his leg badly with an axe, 
making a deep and ghastly wound, which would render him n 
cripple for weeks and perhaps for months. The neighbors 
would assemble, that is, make a bee and do all his work as far 
as it could be done at that time, and then, by arrangement 
among themselvcE, one man would go every afternoon and 
gather the sap, carrying it to the house where it could be boiled 
np by the settler's wife. Again, one would be taken sick in 
harvest time: his neighbors would make a bee, harvest and 
secure his crops, when, at the same time, their own grain very 
likely would be going to waste for w^nt of gathering. In seed 
time a man's ox would perhaps be killed by the falling of 
a tree : the neighbors would come with their teams and drag ia 
his wheat when they had not yet sowed their own. A settler's 
house would be accidentally burned down — his family would be 
provided for at the nearest neighbors, and all would turn out 
and build and finish a house in a day or two so that the man 
could take bis family into it. Instances like these, in which the 
settlers exibited their kindness and sympathy for each othes 
might be extended indefinitely, but we have referred to a suffi- 
cient number to show the kindness apdgood feeling that e^sisted 
among theni." 


((For the purpose of showing how much time and labor it 
required in many cases for the first settlers to procure even the 
most common articles of food, I will state what has been related 
to me by one of the most respectable and intelligent of the first 
Bottlers of Dansville.* He stated that when he first settled in 

*Xhe late Judge Hapi^ond, cf Jlammondsport, 


that town, it was very dijGScalt to procure provisions of any" 
kind ; and there vfas no grain to be had any where but of the 
Indians, at Squaky Hill, who had corn, which they would sell 
for a silver dollar a bushel. In order to get some corn for 
bread — his supply-having become exhausted — he went Several 
miles to a place where a wealthy man was making large ini' 
provements and employed a good many hands. . ; He ohopped.lbr 
him four days, for which ho received two dollars.. Hetheo 
worked one day for another man to pay for the use of a horse,, 
and on the nest day started, for the Indian Village, a distance 
of fifteen or twenty milesi where he got two bushels ef corn for 
his two. dollars. The corn had been kept by the Indians tied 
up in bunches by the husks, and hung arou-nd the walls of their 
cabin, and was very black and dirty, covered with soet and 
ashes. He took the corn home and his wife washed it clean, 
with a good deal of labor and dried it go that it could be ground. 
He then got the horse another day, and carried the corn to mill, 
twelve or fifteen miles, ^nd was fortunate enough to get' it 
ground and reach liome the same day. Here we see that it 
took seven days work of the settler to get the meal of two 
bushels of corn. The old gentleman's eye kindled when he 
related these circumstances, and he said that the satisfactioa 
and happiness he felt when sitting by the fire and looking-at 
the bag full of meal standing in the corner of his log house, fajT' 
surpassed what he experienced at any other time in the acquiM- 
tion of property,.-although he became in time the owner of a. 
large farm, with a large stock of horses, cattle, and-sheep, and 
all the necessary implements of a substantial and wealthy 


Corning owes its existence and prosperity to no original supe- 
riority of location over neighboring villages, but has sprung up 
to a thriving and commanding position by having become the 
centre of great public improvements. The history of these is 
the history of the place. 

By the construction of the Chemung Canal this point was 
made an inland termination of navigable communication with 
the Hudson river and the ocean. It was eonsequently the poiab 
from which the products of the forest, the field, and the river, for 
a vast extent of country were destined to seek a market. Tha 

'Prepared for this volume by a correspondent. 

sagaoiouB enterprise of a few capitalists pointed to it as the 
future centre of an extensive comraeroe. 

The extensive mines of bituminous coal, at Blossburgh, in 
the state of Pennsylvania, had early attracted attention, and 
shortly alter the completion of the Chemung canal two corpo- 
rations, one of which had been created by the state of Pennsyl- 
vania, to construct a slack water navigation from Blossburg ta 
the state line, and the other by the State of New York, to 
continue the same to Elmira, were autberiaedby their respective 
states to build railroads connecting at the stateline, and in this 
state, extending to a point at or near the termination of the 
Chemung canal 

- The work of constructing these railroads was commenced in 
1836, and at the same time an association of gentlemen now 
known as the Corning Company, having purchased a large tract 
of land on both sides of the Chemung river, and laying out streets 
and lots, made a beginning of the future village of Corning by 
the erection of a large hotel called the "Corning House." The 
Corning and Blossburg railroad was completed and put into 
operation in 1840. About the same time the work of building 
the New York and Erie railroad which passes through the village 
was commenced in the vicinity and prosecuted vigorously till 
the suspension of the work, in 1842. The Bank of Corning, 
with a capital of |104,0Q0,' had been organized and put in 
operation, in 1839. So rapid was the growth of the village, 
that the population amounted in 1841 to 900. 

Here iti prosperity was for a time arrested. The commercial 
revolutions which paralyzed enterprise and industry everywhere 
were felt with peculiar severity here. The work upon the NeW 
York and Erie railroad whichhad drawn together a considerable 
population, was suspended. The property of the Corning and 
Blossburg railroad was seized by creditors. The price of lumber, 
the great staple of the country, vfould hardly pay the cost of 
manufacture. Large quantities of coal lay upon the bank of 
the river and in eastern markets, wanting purchasers. Bank- 
ruptcy was almost universal, and the resources of industry were 
almost entirely cut off. 

Notwithstanding these drawbacks to the prosperity of the 
village, the advantages of its position and the hopeful energies 
of its citizens did not suffer the relapse to continue long. — 
After a while the demand for coal increased and the market 
enlarged. Improved prices of lumber stimulated its manufac- 
ture, and larger quantities were brought here for shipment. 
The place became the centre of a heavy trade, and capita] 


lougbt investinent in manufactures. In 1848 the village wag 
incorporated under the general law, containing at the time 1700 

In the mean time the work of building the Erie railroad was 
resumed, and on the first day of January, 1850, was opened a 
direct railway communication with the city of New York. The 
elements of prosperity seemed complete. 

But there were elements to contend with of an adverse and 
direful character. On the eighteenth day of May, 1850, occur- 
red a fire, more extended and disastrous in proportion to the 
size of the place, than has oftsn, if ever happened elsewhere. 
The entire tiusiness part of the village, comprising nearly one 
hundred buildings, with large quaBti,ties of lumber, was in a 
few hours laid in ashes. Yet the disaster was so common and 
universal— misfortune had so many oompanions-^there were so 
jnany to share theloss that tbe burden seemed to be scarcely 
felt. The embers had not cooled before shanties of TOUgh boards 
supplied the place of stores, and for months almost tbe entire 
business was carried on in places, neither secure from summer 
rains or thieves. In the mean time the work of rebuilding was 
going on, and in no long time substantial and splendid buildings 
figain occupied the place pf the ruins. 

In the year 1852 was opened the first section of the Buffalo, 
Corning and New York railroad, haying its eastern terminus at 
Corning. The remainder of the line to Buflalo, willl be in 
operation in the course of 1853. Tbe Corning and Blossburg 
railroad also was relaid with a new and heavy rail and newly 
equipped throughout. 

The annual exports of coal and lumber are forty thousand 
tons of the former^ and fifty million feet of the latter* In its 
cfinal commerce., Corning is the fifth port in the st.9te. 

In new villages and'settleinents, sebools and churches are apt 
to receive but secondary attention. In Corningits Union School 
of four or five hundred scholars has maintained a not inferioT 
rank, and its five Churches gi;e evidence of some considerable 
attention to morals and religion. . 

The population is now not far from three thousand, and the 
sanguine predict an increase vastly more rapid in future than it 
}iaB been in former years. 


The first stable in the town of Bath was literally "put 
lip by a whirlwin4-" In 1791, or about that time, a deBtrnctiye 


hurricane swept OTUr ths land. Judge faker in after Jsars 
took pains to collect information of the movements of this great 
"northern fanatic," and wag of the cpinion that its path from 
Lake Erie to the Atlantic was about ninety miles in breadth, 
Tind. that the northern limit of its agitation in this county was 
at the upper town line of Urbana. A more violent "agitator" 
never passed through the land. Thousands of acres of forest 
were prostrated, and the frightful windfalls^ briar-grown and 
tangled, which settlers afterwards found in this county were 
the efieots of this "inflammatory appeal' to ths weak brethrsn 
of the wilderness. We have met a veteran. farmer who was a 
child at the time when the tornado passed, and happened on 
that day to be left by his parents to take care of still youngef 
children, and remembers hiding in a hole in the ground with 
his little brothers while the forest was filled with the terrifio 
roar of falling pines. 

iVlr. Jonathan Cook, an early settler at Painted Post, was 
driving a pack horse laden with provisions to Pleasant Valley 
where Phelps and Gorhara's surveyors were at work; and was 
near the mouth of Smith's creek, on the ConhOcton, when the 
storm struck him. He took refuge ander an oak tree, while the 
wind, sweeping furiously up the ravine,, uprooted the maples, 
twisted branches from the trees and scattered them in the air 
like wisps Of hay. A whirling gust caught the cluster under 
which he was standing. The oak beneath which he had taken 
refuge was prostrated, but he himself fell with his face to the 
ground and escap'ed unhurt. His horse however met with a 
strange catastrophe. The whirlwind tore up several large trees 
and imprisoned the unfortunate animal in a cage so impregnable 
that the driver was unable to extricate him, but was obliged to 
go over to the surveyors' camp and get men to return with axes 
and make a breach in. the vfalls of the stable. 'This was rather 
a rough joke, even for a whirlwind, but the horse was but littla 


(The notice of the settlement of the town of Dansville origi- 
nally prepared-for this work was accidentally lost. At this 
time it id impossible to supply the names of the settlers in the 
southern part of the town, turnished by Wm. C. Rogers, Esq., 
of Rpgersville. The village- of Dapsville falling within th» 
proTinoeflf the author of the ffistory of Phelps and Gorham'^ 

Purchase, a brief notice of the settlera of that portion of the old 
totrn. formerly a part of Steuben county is condensed from that 
valuable and copious work.)- The first settler upon the site of 
the village Of Dansvilte, was Neil McCoy. He came from 
Painted Post and located where bis step-son, James MeCurdy, 
who came in with him, now resides. The family was four day« 
making the journey from Painted Post, camping out two nights 
on the way. To raise their log-house, help came from Bath, 
Geneseo and Mount Monns, with Indians from Squaky.'";:Hiill 
and Gardeau. Daring the first season, it is meniionea ^hat 
Mrs. McCoy, hearing of the arrival of Judge Hurlburfs family 
at Arkport, eleven miles distant, resolved as ah act of backwoods 
courtesy to make the first call. Taking her son with her, she 
made the journey through the woods by marked trees, dined 
with her new neighbors, and returned in time to do her milking, 
after a walk of twenty-two mile^. 

Amariah Hammond Esq., a widely known pioneer of the town 
who died at a venerable age in the winter of 1850, "coming in 
to explore, slept two nights under a pine tree on the premises 
he afterwards purchased. Early in the spring of 1796 he 
removed his young family from Bath to this place ; his wife and 
infant child on horseback, his household goods and farming 
utensils on a sled drawn by four oxen, and a hired man driviBg 
the cattle." . 

- Captain Daniel P. Faulkner was an early property holder 
and spirited citizen of the town in the palmy days ofjCol. 
Williamson, and from his familiar appellative, "Captain Dan" 
the village took its name. In 1798 Jacob Welch, Jacob Martz, 
Conrad Marlz, George Shirey and Frederick Barnhart emi- 
grated to Dansville with their families. They came up the 
Conhocton valley, and were three days on the road from Bath, 
camping out twO nights. At the arrival of this party the 
names of the settlers already on the ground besides those before 
named were Mr. Phenix, James Logan, David Scholl, John 
Vanderwenter, Jared Erwin, William Perine. Col. Nathaniel 
Rochester became a resident of Dansville in 1810. 

The settlement of the southern part of this town was not 
commenced till about the year 1816. Qf the settlers in that 
district we can only recall the names of Messrs. Wm. C. Ro- 
gers and Jonas Bridge. In the year 1816 (or about that time) 
Mr. Rogers, on arriving in the vicinity of the present village of 
Rogersville, found the merest handful of settlers in all tbst 
quarter. At this day the wilderness has given place to a pleas'- 
ant village with an academy of substantial worth,, surrounded 
by a thriving farming country. 


Notice of the Topography and Geology of Steuben County, 1 

Preliminary flistol-y : Purchase i Title, ...t ,.....,.. IS 


Steuben County immediately previous to its Settlements A Jour- 
ney sixty-five years ago : the Forest : the Rirers. &c. : Benja- 
min Patterson the Hunter : Skirmish at Freeland's Fort : Scuf- 
fle •with the Interpreter : the wild Ox of Genesee 29 

7%e settlements made under the purthase Sy Phelps and Gorhani. 
The old town of Painted Post ! origin of the name ! the first set- 
tlers : the settlement of the upper valley of the Canisteo : the 
Canisteo Flats : life in the Canisteo Valley : a wrestling match : 
Captain John: old Enemies: Van Campen and Mohawk : a dis- 
comfited savage : capture of a saw-nlill \ the lower Canisteo val- 
ley : the Tioga valley: Col. Lindley: a Deerdlayer immortal- 
ized, , . , 50 


The great Air-Castle : the London Association : Captain William- 
son : Northumberland : the German Colony : the passagejof the 
Germans through the Wilderness : terrors and tribulations : a 
" Parisian scene." .....; ^82 


7he settlement of Bath! consolatory reflections : Serpents : JM'ar- 
rative of General McClure: character of the Settlers: early 
citizens, ,the Camerons, Andrew Smith, &c. : an auto-biography : 
Emigration : the Wilderness : settlers at Mud Creek : Bath ; 
Captain Williamson : a canoc-^oyage s Building ! Speculation : 
navigation of the Rivers i business fortunes and misfortunes : 
Crooked Lake navy : a portly and able bodUd gentleman extin- 
guished : Indian traffic : Biver navigation : conclusion of the 
Narrative, • > • • 104 


Captain WilUamson's administration : life at Batli : grand Simcoe 
War : Races : Theatre : vindicntion of the ancients : Bath Ga- 
zette < County Newspapers t the Bar : Fhysiciana 147 

% 302" 

Settlement of Pleasant Valley : FrederieUton, incjudiag "Waynes 
Tyrone and Reading : Prattsburgh i.-Wieeler : Pulteney : How- 
ard : Hornby: Cpnhootou : the towns south of the Canisteo : Or- 
ange : Campbell : Avoca : Way laud, ...... .i.»,. . ^ . . . , i ... .217 


The Air-Castle vanishing : cios&Df Col. Williajnson's career : his 
character, .'i ..,.,.., -u,. .....:. ... . ^205 

Steuben County, since the period of ' settlement : disasters : .pro- 
gress : prospects :. thf citizens and the land proprietors, . . . .217 


The Indians : incidents: Indian names, &c. f Game, &c. rdeer: 
wolves j pantlierss bejirs : beaver-: " snake stories-:" anecdotes 
of the chase : the " Plumping Mill :" Incidents of the "War x>f 
1812; the Militia: the Steuben Company at.the battle of Queens- 
ton Heights : the fighting Chief justice : an incident: the "Rat- 
tle of Dansville.". *..... , .241 


Organization of Steuben County, and stajjstioal tables, 279- 

-Sketch^ General History of settlement in Western New York, 

Settler-Xlfe, ,. . . ^ ; . . 

The village of Corning,. 296 

The " Great Windfall" of 1791, 298 

The Settlers of Dansville, .299 


On page 10, for Oanistes read Canisteo, 

On page 14j/or Soandinarian read Soahdiuayian. 

On page 21'','W)r weary woodsmen road wary woodsmen. 

On page -89, for Tarathmei read Jarathmel, 

On page 84,. for beating read boaiing. 

On page 89, for town in 8d line read towns. 

On page 90, for Shemokinn read Shemokam. 

On page 94, for oongars read cougars. , 

On page 199, for Ketohers read ^Setcjies.- 

On page 218, ifor frugal read feudal. . 





This boaW. (now in course of publication,) is one of^eep 
interest to the general reader, and more particularly valua- 
ble to the descendants and family connections of the 


Tlie story of their ADVENTURES, PRIVATIONS, 
DARING, and HARDIHOOD, should be perpetuated, and 
(his book will present a suitable, memorial ot' their lives, 
worthy of being treasured up in'every. family. 

The general History of the County, Notices of the FirKt 
Settlements, and .subsequent Improvement, Biographical 
Sketches, Anecdotes, <^c., will coriibine to make it a book of 
the highest interest. (ET" The book will contain notices of 
more than On?. Hundred af the Ppneers whoiua,(ie the first 
clearing in this county. 

N. B.— It is intended to enlarge this book by adding new 
biographical notices of;fami!ies, when such can be obtained, 
the difficulty of obtaining full information has been much 
greater than could reasonably be supposed. 

"VTOTTlVri IVrTTlVr ^*" secure a jmod compeiua- 
IVJUi'NVJ iViril> tion by taking Towns or larger 

sections, and procuring subscribers for the History of Stes- 
lipn County. Ten or fifteen'dollars ready cash is all thst 
will be required to start wiih. -Call soon; first come, first 
served. ' R. L. UNDEHHILL & CO 

Cap and liietter Paper^ from varicua cej,Bb.ra- 
t?d manufactories la the Eastern States, also English and 
French — very surpemr qualities, and very cheap — some as 
'low as $1.5.0. per rieam. 

Wote Paper^i of beautiful patterns— for In ritalions, 
&c., also, Comtneccial Mote Paper, or business paper, of the 
very best quality. 

Envelopes. — Basiness and Law Envelopes, of all 
qualities and styles. Wafers, Wax, Tape, Sand, Blotting' 
Paper, Rulers, Steel PfeoS) Inkstands, Calendars,-Glasp«, 
Paper Weights, 

Drawing Pencils in Boxes, OflSce Pencils; Carpenter's Pcra- 
siis, Red Crayons, &c. 

Bagley's celebrated nianufactury, also some at very low 


Monochromatic Board, Crayons, Stumps, jcc, Bristol 
Bioard) Drawing Paper, Crayon Paper, &c. 

. Pocket MapS) Outlioe Maps for Schools, Map« (or. (he 
(pfl^ee or House on rotten. 


A new edition of Walter Scott^s celebrated Novels, is 
Ww in course of publication, Tliey are printed on fine pa- 
per, with large clear type, and are sold at 50 cents each. — 
The following are now ready. 

Waverly, Guy Mannering, Antiquary, Rob Roy, Black 
Dwarf, and Old MoTta'Hty, Heart of Mid Lothian, Bride of 
Lammernnoor, and. Legend of IVlontrosel 

Psychology, &c— A. iJ. Davis' works, Dod's Lectures, 
"Celestial Telegraph, and other Works upon Spiritual Mani- 
festations, now on hand. New works of this chatcacter as 
soon as.published- 

Sunday School Libbarjes. — These books, also. Ques- 
tions and Hymns, &c. are furnished at the Bath Bookstocv 
at the Prices, as advertised in the catalogues of the Am. S. 
S. Union. Lots of 100 volumes for $10, kept on hand. ^ 

Abbott's Biographies. — This series of well written books, 
interessihg to young or old, -inc)udes the following, 
•Julius Caesar, Alfred the Great, 

Hannibal, Maria Antoinette, 

Josephine, 'Charls 1st, 

Xerxes, Charles 2d, 

'<Que^n' Elizabeth, Cyrus the Great, 

Darius the Great, Mary Queen of Scots, 

William, the Conqueror, Madame Roland, Cleop3,tra. 

Historical lV^ork«. 

'Gibbons' Rome, Rollins History, 

Hume's England, Macauley's England, 

Josephus, D'Aobigne's Reformation, 

And-other valuable Hiatorical works at the lowest prices. 


House Builders. 

Will be furnished to order, by E. L. Underhill, at short 
notice, with a variety of ornamental articles of Iron, of 
Cortiposition material, such as Cornice Moulding, Eniahlw- 
tures^ Lintells, Sills, Consoles Brackets, Capitals of Corin- 
thian or other orders. Chimney Tops, ^c. All these are 
suitable for Stone, Brick, or wood buildings. Also, Com^ 
position mouldings, for in^de work, such as Panel Moidd- 
ingi for Doors, Casings, &c., being cheap, duiable, and ele- 
gant substitutes for stone or wood carving. 

Marble llANTE^iS, carved or plain ; Enameled Iron 
Mantels, a perfect, and indestructible imitation of marble, 
white or colored. Iron Columns, Fire Proof Shutters, Irori 
StatiMry, Bailing for Cemetery lots, or Door yards, Stair y 
Railing, Balconies, &c. 


Furnished of any size or pattern at prices according tO' 
size, from $50, up. A very excellent Furnace to warm 
one upper and one basetiientroom, is furnished for $25. 

Are You Married? Then provide for the future ne- 
cessities of those you love. If they are defJendant on your 
labor, lay by a small part of your earnings — you can very 
easily spare $10 or ,$20 a year-; this amount, if you are not 
Qver 26 years old, will secure to your family $500 or $1000. 
If you ara older, it will require a little more. Who will not 
save this trifle for the welfare of his wife and chijdren ? — 
bee Life Insurance advertisement. 


THE AMERICAN SHEPHERD, being a History of 
the sheep, with their breeds, management und diseases, 
Barns, Sheds, Preparation, of Wool for sale,, &c., &c., 

YouATT ON THE HoKSE — A large wolfc including every- 
thing relating to the Horse, and an essa.y, on the Ass and 

Youatt on the Pig — lYouatt on Sheep. 

Culture of the Grape atid Strawberry. 

Farmer's Encyclopedia; a complete Dictionary of every 
thing relating to Agriculture. 

Cole's Veterinaeian. — The diseases of Domestic Ani- 
^mals, their Causes and Cure, 

American Pottlteeee's Companion. — This book treats 
of the best method of raising and fattening all kinds of 
Poultry, showing the profitable character of the Bustnpss. 

Domestic Animals, by Allen.— r-Showing the best meth- 
od of raising, fattening, and preparing for a profitable mar- 
ket, including directions for the management of the Dairy. 

Farmek's Hand Book. — Containing directions for pur- 
chasing and clearing Land, plans of Buildings, Fences, gen< 
eral qnanagement of a farm, useful recipes, &c., &c. 


Seinkek on AsKMHTLTURts. — Containing Contributions, 
Essays, and Statistics from practical Farmers. 

Thomas' Fhkit CBLTtTRist.'^A valuable work on tfca 
Orchard, Nursery, &c. 

Barry's Fbpit Garden- — Containing full directions for 
Dwarf, and Pyramidal Trees, particularly applicable to giz^ 
dens and small grounds. 

Hinds' Farrier. — The niost popular book on this sub- 
ject. It continues to be in good demand, notwithstanding 
ihe multitude of new books. 

LiEBiQ^'s AsBicuLTtrRAL Chemistey. — A Very scientific 
and populftr work, which should be well studied by every' 

These and mtiny other new and popular books, worthy 
the attention of the intelligetU cultivator of the soil are sup- 
{died at the Bath Bookstore: 



A savings bank foi the benefit of the widow and the or- 

(Eai^wared b;f Act of Parlim«nt) 

Capital £500,000 sterling, or $2,500,000 beaides a reserved 
ftttid (from surplus premiums) of about $185,000 

This Institution embraces important and substa-ntial ad*- 
Tantageji with respect to life assurances and deferred annut- 
ti««. The assured lias, on all occasions, the power to bor- 
row, nrithbut expense or forfoiture of the policy, two thirds 
of the premiums paid ; also the option of selecting benefits, 
a«id the conversion of hi^ interests to meet either conreni- 
etices or necessfity. 

Assurances fot terms of yeWs at the lowest possible rates. 

Persons insured fbr life, can at once, borrow half tb« 
amount of annual premium fotr, five successire years, oa 
their own note and deposit of policy. 


Part of the cc^pital is permanently invested in the United 
States, in the names of the three local directors — as Tru»» 
teea^available always "to the assured in case of dispated 
daims (should any suc^h arise) or otherwise. 

The payment of premiums, half-yearly or quarterly, at a 
trifling; advance opon the annual rate. 

Thirty days allowed after «ach payment of premium bo- 
eonies due, without forfeiture of policy. • ■ 

An act in respect to insurance of lives, for the benefit of 
married women, passed by the Legislature of New York, 
1st April, 1840, 

Pamphlets, blank forms, table of rates, lists of agents, ete., 
<^ta>ned from the agents throughout the United States, and 
JBritish North American Colohies. 

ft. L. UNDEEHILL, Agent. 

Baptist, Methodtst, PaE=BYTERiAN, Episcopal, and 
'Other doctrinal books for sale at the usual rales. 

American Authors. — Irving, Cooper, Bryant, Willis, 
Sigourney, Prescott, Hawthorn, Stephens, and all other 
writers of celebrity, whose works shotUd be in every man's 
Li^ary, are furnished very low. 

Or Life on a Farm — A most graphic picture of country 
life. The author aims to convince men of the wisdom «f 
being contented with an honorable, useful, and productive 
occupation. It is well written and highly interesting. 

Or Life at a Trade. Another work of the same charac- 
ter, and of equal usefulness and interest. These books 
should have a large circulation. 

Hydropathy.-«New publications furnished a> sooa 
as published. 



Hill's Guide — The largest and most complete work of 
the kind. 

Benjamin's Architect — The old approved book best 
adapted to ordinaTy practice. ' 

AMEHiCArj Architect — Containrng numerous plans and 
full details of the new styles of building. 

American House Carpenter. -^Pians and designs, for 
country houses, useful for Mechanics, or those who are 
forming plan's for themselves. 

Rural ARQHiTEciURE.—Being a complete description of 
Farm Houses, Cottages, Out-Buildiogs, Gardens, Barns, 
Sheds, &c., &c, 

Arnofs GotB'e Architecture— ^Contaimng all the rules, 
and full details applicable to Dwellings. 


Violins, from $1, to $10. Flutes, with 1 key up to 6.— 
Guitars, from $2, to $30'. Accordeons, fine and cheap. — 
Flutinas, much' superior to Accordeons. 

MELODEONS— The most desirable instrument for 
social music, and well suited fqr a Church Choir, 

Flageolets, Fifes, Violin Strings, Bridges, Screvifs, Bows, 
Bow Hair, Refineed Rosin, Clarionet Reeds, Accorde^n 
Reeds, Tuning Forks, and Instruction Books for all Ivistru; 

/PIANOS, from $200 up. 

Ship and Shore, "Three Years in California, Deck and 

Port, Sea and Sailor, Land Lee. 

These books, by Rev. Tho's ColtQti are very interesting, 

and are a very suitable addition to any Library. 

Hempel's Dotpestic Physician, Jahr's Manual, Hull's 
Lautie, Marcy's Practjee, Boeninghauseti's Therapeutics. 


Hahnerna-n'g-Organon, and; all other books of this class fur- 
nished at the advertised prices of the publisher. 

A variety of articles of entirely new style, — Useful, con- 
venient, and ornamentai. We are making large additions 
tonhis branch of our business, and ail house-keepers, new, 
or old, will find something to suit them in our stock. 
Gilt Cornices for Window Drapery. ■ ' 

Silk Loops, Gimp Bands, Gilt Pins, &g., for Drapery, 
Gilt Frames for Portraits or other Pictures, also. 
Rosewood Frames — Looking Glasses, &c.. Sac, 



-«- ««»•-»- 


Have, in connection with their other business, the largest 
assortment of Wall Paper, that can be found in this part of 
the State, consisting of 


Of the latest and most desirable patterns of French and 
American Manufacture, and almost every variety of Strip- 
ed, Gothic, Arched, Landscape, Block Marble, Fresco and 


Gold Styles — Satin and Common Finish; togerher vith 


200 Different Kinds of Clieap Paper, 

From 6 cts. to $2 per roll, with a good assortment of wide 
and narrow 

FROm 4s. TO 96 PER. ROLL. 

O" These papers hare all been selected with great care, 
acdareofthe latest sityles of superior finish, and the best 
3ssgortmt>nt in the market. Also, 


We have upwards of forty different kinds, end every va- 
riety of style ibat is new or desirable, viz : Pea Green, Dark 
'Gteeri, and Bine, tine striped. Variegated and Blended, and 
the best striped. Variegated and Blended, and the best 
qtiaility of paj>er that<:an be found. 


Gothic, Landscape, Flower, &c., with centres or full, the 
most beautiful article of House Furniture in use. Only 50 
cents each, 

Our arrang-ements with the LARGEST EASTERN 
MANUFACTURERS are sach, as will give to purchaser* 
great advantage in prices, while we are determined to keep 
the best selected a-ssortment; and at as Jpw prices as any in 
town. Those who have been in the habit of buying of us, 
at wholesale or retail, and all others will find it to their ad- 
vantage to examine our stock before purchasing — and we 
trust we shall be able to give satisfaction to those who may 
&vor us with their orders. 


EXPERIENCED HANDS fumished to bang paper, 
when desired, and samples sent out tosetect from if wa-n- 

DZT" Goods freely shown, and sold at very low prices, 


Bristol Board, Drawing Paper, Pencils, Paint, Brushes &x~, 
For sale by R. L. UNDERHILL. & CO. 

In ■ greater or less degree the principle which le&da hs> 
to investigate, to examne, and' to inquire,, is present in the 
breast of each of the human species. We dignify with the 
spithet of "Pursuit of Knowledge" the investigations of the 
student of Philosophy, and degrade the habit of observa' 
tion, of comparison, and research, which is a daily and con- 
stant exercise oi &m faculties, by the application of the epi- 
thet "Curiosity." 

Is this just? — What constitute^ the distinction ? that 
there is such a thing as 2WZe''ciiriosily is admitted, but that 
eurioaity whiih leads the tnembers of (he first sin sex to spend 
their tinrie "shopping" is not idle, if the knowledge thjas 
gained is made available in ibe judicious selection^ of iuk- 
•equent purchases. 

The most prolific source for thie gratification of the prin- 
eipie of cariosity is without doitbt the Bath Bookstore, for 
not only are the Books an endless fund of information, but 
at the same place is also found an infinite variety of arti- 
aies to gratify the eye,, improve the taste, expand the mind, 
strengtben the judgment^ stimulate the intellect, allay un- 
due excitenoent, arouse the sluggish temperament, incite 
tlie desires, and also to gratify those who already possess 
these destrabk powers by aflbrding abundant scope for- th«ir 


If is unnecessary after this concatenation inf expletives, to 
add that the Bath Bookstore is emphe^tically a "Curiosity 
Shop," where everything imaginable, rare, curious, indigejj- 
oiis and exotic is more likely to be fohnd than in any place 
that can be designated within the extent of the domain «f 
that ancient brother of our " paternal — Uncle Sam." 
'/', Now unto all, tottering youth, decrepit age, the glowing 
belle or the stately guardian of the fair, to those who court 
the syren, pleasure; or pursue the not less fleeting phantom 
wealth, we send greeting, the invitation devoid of all for- 
mality — " At Home" — the doors are cordially opened to all ; 
drop in and spend an hour even if you do net buy — examine, 
read, in short — gratify your curiosity. , , ' 

Then if you should wish to buy, you will find in one cor- 
ner a choice collection of Toys; and Masters Edward and 
Robert^ the proprietors thereof caA supply you with a penny 
Trumpet or Ring — up to a Wax Doll or Crying baby ; a 
China Tea Set, or a Coral necklace; in fine, a large stock 
with smcUl owners. Then should you desire to gratify a 
friend with a present, or propitiate ..ith a significant token 
of , you will be furnished witli a boob that will plain- 
ly sp°ak that which the trembling lips refuse the utterance. 

' Then what worthier gift for those whom we venerate in 
the dignity of age or esteem in the plenitude of all that is 
noble, that the expressions of those high in the honor of the 
world for their lofty powers of intellect and reason — for th« 
aged, the time honored writings of Baxter, Bunyan and a 
long list of kindred spirits, and for the mature mind what 
more appropriats gift than a book emanating from the brain 
of some masterspirit, from him, the immortal Bard, wbosa 
name shall " endure to the last sylable of recorded time," 
down tojthe fledgling aspirant for fame, or instead of these, 
the truth portraying page ot the Historian,; teaching philo- 
sopliy by example, or the soaring flights of a Headley, ©ir 
abstrusities of a Carlyle — ^tempting the Icariars to melt their 
waxed wings in the sun of sharp criticism. For the geatler 
mind what more pleasing gift than thn writings of Tapper, 
Willis, Sigoumey, Hemans, or Lowell, Hawthorne, M«U.